My dad has been in the news a lot lately. Not all of it good. Because the “good stuff” does not sell advertising and newspapers, in my opinion.
Allow me to introduce Woody to you.
Woody is generous, to a fault. It’s probably his biggest flaw. Don’t laugh, it’s like saying “overly punctual” as a flaw in an interview. But, it is a big flaw. He sees the good in everyone and gives second, third, fourth, and even fifth chances. These strangers, probationers, reformed drug addicts, and people who just hit a rough patch can have good in them and Woody works hard to make sure that he sees it. And helps. He has been burned one time too many and each time we think he has “learned his lesson” and each time, he proves to us that there is someone out there who has good.
Woody’s father died when Woody was young. Silly young, like seven. He was eating breakfast at the kitchen table and his dad said, “Son, I’m going to play racquetball at the gym and we’ll hang out tonight. I love you.” and he was gone. Six months later, Woody was riding his bike down the street and was the victim of a hit and run. His femur had sliced through his skin and he spent the next 16 weeks in an almost full-body cast in the hospital. It was where he was when Kennedy was shot. Because of these events, Woody puts his wife and children first. Very first. Before work, before everything else.
Woody has sold insurance almost his whole adult life. When his father died early, he saw the immediate benefits of how his father took care of his mother. My grandmother never had to go back to work. When she died, Woody downsized his lucrative office on Wheeler Road and moved his practice to the pool house behind our house, where his mother had lived before her death. Every day when my brother and I came home from school, we walked into the office and saw both of our parents before walking into the house to start homework, eat a snack, and take care of our chores.
Speaking of insurance, Woody, literally, has saved not only lives, but families. People bring their problems to him- not like a lawyer, or a psychiatrist, but something equally complex- finances. People bring their problems to him and he reviews what they have done, the good and the bad, and helps them prepare for the next chapter in their lives, whether it is retirement, babies, college, or death. Everything that comes across his desk is immediately locked in a mental vault, not just because it is the law- HIPAA, but it is the right thing to do. Woody came into this business before fancy titles like “financial planner” came about. He came into this business before fees. When “Financial Planners” started charging fees, Woody said point blank, “I did not start with fees and I am not going to end with fees.”
Woody made his bones at The Academy in the height of the early seventies when we were all, as a nation, figuring out just what it meant to be black, white, southern, right, and wrong. We were, as a section of this country, wrong. Under the flag and under God, we are all equal. It does not matter your background, the color of your skin, or your belief. We are all equal.
From those days and into today, Woody’s friends are not always going to be found at a country club or on a golf course. His very best friend is a farmer in Millen and we see him about once a year in his beat up Ford. Woody makes anyone feel welcome in our home and he knows no strangers. He’s short and he’s scrappy, but he’s my dad.
As dads go, I would not cash mine in.
And you should not either. Don’t judge just what you hear from those that do not know him. Ask around to those that do and a different story will start to form. A loving friend, caring husband, amazingly patient son-in-law to a very stubborn old man, and someone who loves this city, and this country deeper than can possibly be understood.
That’s what Woody Merry should be known for.