Saturday, September 12, 2009
Leroy, A Lifetime of Giving
Leroy lives in the small town of Clinton, MO, but his generosity spreads across the USA, especially to Memphis, TN. Over 50 years ago Leroy attended a show by Danny Thomas in Kansas City where Danny announced his dream of building a research hospital for children with cancer. As we know that dream came true as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Leroy was moved by this and signed up to be a charter member of the supporters group. He has continued to give throughout these years, especially a gift of his time and talents.
Leroy largest and main gift are birdhouses that he lovingly builds. Over the years, Leroy has donated thousands of beautiful, colorful wren houses to St. Jude. He said they could use them anyway they wanted, but he especially wanted them to go to the kids, staff, and visitors at the hospital.
Leroy has made numerous trips to Memphis and through the years met Danny and his family. He carries a photo of himself with Phil Donahue and Danny’s son Tony. He always ate and visited with the kids, they are his kids too. Even at the age of 85 Leroy stills builds the birdhouses, however most years now someone from the St. Jude’s foundation stops by Clinton and picks them up. This year, 2009, he gave over 600.
MissDazey Personal Story:
The story of how Bruce and I met these adorable gentlemen is definitely a nice story, but one we always call a “God Wink”. They are those serendipity type things that always seem like a blessing. We like to stop at the Arby’s in Clinton, MO on our way to Kansas City. I told Bruce to time it so we would be there about 11 when they were opening. Sure enough, almost 11 exactly we are there. I walked over to get a table while Bruce was ordering and this nice older man said hello. Of course, I said hello back and we got into the typical “how’s the weather” conversation.
Soon he was telling us about his garden, giving green beans and other vegetables away, and typical old man stuff. He told us his name is Leroy and that he had worked at Hallmark of many years, and now lived in Clinton. He also told us he was almost 86, had been in WWII, and how he was part of the troops that first went into the death camps at the end of the war.
About this time, Leroy switched the conversation to his passion and you could tell, favorite subject, building birdhouses for St. Jude. He told us all about meeting Danny Thomas and his family, the trips to Memphis, and how many birdhouses he gave away each year. (I think everyone in Clinton has one or more too)
We were just about to leave the parking lot when Bruce said, “Oh, my, you are going to get a birdhouse”. Bruce spotted Leroy coming across the parking lot. Leroy got a bright red wren house out of his car and came over to give it to us. Isn’t that the kindest thing ever! He told us to hang it out April 1, and take it in the end of October. We are big bird lovers and next April Fool’s day, we will hang out our red wren house and think of Leroy. He is no fool…but a loving, old sweetheart of a man sharing with sick kids, one bird house at a time.