Alabama farmer secretly paid pharmacy bills for less fortunate people

DEKALB COUNTY, Alabama (WHNT) — Hody Buford Childress had a secret. Shortly after his death on New Year’s Day, however, his long-held kindness, untold for years, was finally revealed.

Hody’s arrangement with Brooke Walker, who owns Geraldine Drugs on Richey Street, touched on several people. The decade-long deal resulted in Hody going to the pharmacy every month, sometimes more often, with a folded $100 bill, or occasionally more.

Hody’s secret was only revealed at his funeral.

“He came in one day and asked if there were ever cases where someone couldn’t get their medication because of financial reasons,” Walker said. “And I’ve told him yes – many times.”

Walker said the money was used to help children who needed Epi-Pens, families in between coverage and those just leaving the hospital.

“In the beginning I kept it in an envelope because I thought it was a one-time donation. Then, [Hody] returned the next month… and the next… and the next,” Walker recalled. “After [the pharmacy] moved, I decided we needed to create a safer way to keep up with him, as it sometimes built up into a large crowd before anyone needed it. We decided to make it a computer account; I wanted to see every transaction and have an electronic record.”

The only directive he gave was that the money should go to anyone who couldn’t afford their medication – but they weren’t allowed to know his name. That’s how Hody wanted it. No acknowledgment, no pat on the back. Just…kindness.

“We always said to the recipient, ‘This is from someone who felt guided by God to help another.’ We left it at that,” Walker said.

The retired Lockheed Martin employee was a farmer who outlived both his son and wife. Hody liked to live quietly. He would even send someone to deliver the money if his health prevented him from going himself. They gave Walker the money and said, “Hody said you’d know what to do with it.”

“The first time I used it for someone, I called and told them what a blessing it was to their family. Again he told me he didn’t want to know who received it,” Walker recalled. “He just told me to do what I feel directed to do. It felt like a lot of pressure that he confided in me.”

Walker indicated multiple times when the account delivered a blessing at just the right time.

“Once upon a time there was a young single mother. She and her daughter both needed medications that their insurance didn’t cover. There were no alternatives,” Walker said. “When I gave her the medicine with the receipt attached, she started crying… A few months later she came back to prepay. She wanted to return money to the account. She didn’t have to, and I didn’t want to either… but she did have a desire to help others in difficult situations. I believe Hody sparked that in her heart and will carry that throughout her life. It created a ripple effect and he didn’t even notice it.”

According to Walker, others have also come back to pass it on. Hody impacted his community and beyond in ways he would never know.

There were two situations where Walker explained that the money was being used for something other than medicine, but felt she couldn’t ignore the call for help.

The first was a woman in an abusive relationship trying to get back on her feet. “She was not a follower of Christ, and I felt compelled to tell her that there is hope in Christ,” Walker said. “I gave her $100 cash and told her it was the work of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that it planted a seed.”

In another scenario, Walker recounted the magic of the Christmas season that was the result of Hody’s kindness:

“A long-time customer who I adored came in for medicine. He was an elderly gentleman who always came in with a smile on his face despite a difficult domestic situation. In ten years I had never seen him less than cheerful. It was different this time. He and his wife cared for their adult son with special needs. I asked him if he was ready for Christmas and he almost burst into tears when he shared his difficulties with me. His wife recently broke her hip. He tried to cook, clean, take care of her son, take care of her and do the laundry. He asked if I knew anyone who was selling a used washer/dryer because theirs stopped working. His heart was so heavy that night.

He was our last customer and we closed the shop. I couldn’t get him out of my head. I first started scouring Facebook for a set, but I also knew it would be difficult for him to load/unload without help. I finally went to Lowe’s website and calculated the cheapest set with delivery. I didn’t know if Hody would be okay with that, but whether the money came from my personal account or the donation account, I wouldn’t go to sleep because I knew he needed help and had no one to turn to for it . I checked the donation balance. It had more than ever (probably because I was on maternity leave), and I knew it was the right thing.

I looked up his address and drove to his house. When I got to his house, his wife called for me to come in. She was lying on the couch with her broken hip and her disabled son was watching cartoons next to her. She told me he went to the pharmacy and grocery store. I went to Foodland with a mission to find him and there he was with his shopping cart. He initially thought I was just shopping too and looked a little stunned when he saw me. I gave him an envelope that said, “I’ve watched you take care of everyone around you for years and here’s something to make your life a little easier this Christmas. God bless you.” I told him it was not from me, but from an anonymous donor who wanted to spread God’s love by helping others.

When I walked away, he stood speechless in the milk duct, still trying to process what was happening to him. He thanked me several times after that night and I know it had a huge impact on him.”

Walker added that the account has never gone down to zero, adding that she is “forever grateful to Hody for entrusting this task to me.”

“Hody wasn’t just a good man. He was a great man,” Walker said. “I wish I had told him how much he meant to me… how much his actions and beliefs impacted my life… and how blessed I was to know him.”

To keep Hody’s kindness and generosity alive, those who knew him established a “Hody Childress” fund at the pharmacy to keep the “secret” alive.