Roy Hodnett was recently awarded the Alfred W. Jones, Sr. Award for dedicated leadership and outstanding service to Brunswick and the Golden Isles by the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce. Those of us who work with him every day can go on and on about what a wonderful leader and person he is. The award introduction speech nicely sums up his lifetime of dedication.
Let’s start back over 80 years ago when a young boy at the age of 11 started working to help support his family. He delivered papers and then groceries all over town on his bike and continued helping his family through high school. Following his high school graduation, he worked in virtually every aspect of the food retail business, which he loved. In 1940, he went to work for a large company called Dupont, but before he was there even a full year, the war broke out. He enlisted in the army at the young age of 20 and spent the next five years of his life serving his country because he loved and believed in what his country stood for: freedom.
Before he left to fight in France, he met and married the love of his life. He will tell you that she helped make him the man he is today. After being wounded in the Battle of the Bulge and coming dangerously close to losing his leg, he came home a hero with numerous honors, including the Purple Heart and the Silver Star.
He came home to heal, see his newborn son, and begin building a life and future with his family. Starting his own cookie distributing company from scratch, he proved quickly that hard work, determination and a good woman beside him was all he needed. He and his family soon moved out of their $900 government house and built a beautiful home where they raised their three children, Mike, Pat and Kelly. It was a good life.
Flash forward to 1968 when he and his wife were vacationing on a little Island in Georgia called Jekyll. They decided to drive over to the next island for dinner and when they crossed the causeway leading to St. Simons, he said, “Honey, I think we have just discovered a little slice of heaven.” They both fell in love with the Island and purchased a home that weekend, making the decision that they would continue building their life in our beautiful community. He sold his distributing company and went into the cookie brokerage business. They packed up their family, moved to Georgia and never looked back.
Always believing that the more a person gives, the more he gets back, he began to make his mark. Embracing their new life in Georgia, he and his family joined the St. Simons United Methodist Church, many clubs and organizations and strived to become part of their new community. Growing tired of traveling with his brokerage company, he retired from selling cookies at the age of 62, deciding to enjoy his days playing golf, enjoying his family and perhaps, sell a little real estate. A few days after retiring, his wife—realizing he would quickly grow bored in retirement—told him, “I married you for better or worse, but not for lunch. Now, go find a job!”
Again, with a lot of determination, hard work, and quite a few risks, he and his partner, built one of the most successful small businesses in Glynn County.
Over the years, he has guided, led, listened, mentored, advised, supported and encouraged so many people, young and old alike. He has a soft spot for anything that has to do with children or young people because he knows they are our future. Each year The Gathering Place stops by his office with a group of students to say “thank you” and he always enjoys this annual visit. He takes the time to share his story and hear about their hopes and plans for the future, all the while encouraging them. As one man told me recently, “He just has that way of making you feel special and that you can do anything if you believe you can.” Always with a smile and a warm handshake or hug, he continues preaching the value of work ethic, kindness and respect for all. He has never strayed from these principles and continues to touch the heart and soul of everyone he meets. He will tell you his family, his country, his community, and his God are the most important things in his life
If you ask him what his secret is to having such a successful and happy life, he will tell you it is having a wife of 68 years who stood beside him and often behind him pushing and believing in him. He will also tell you it is having the right ATTITUDE. There is a quote on the wall in his office that says “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than failures, than successes, than appearances, than skills, than what other people think or say or do. It will make or break a company, a church, a home. What’s remarkable is that we have a choice every day we wake up regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you.“
At 91, his work ethic still has him going to his office every day with his door always open for the next person to walk in for him to encourage, mentor, and push along. And of course, talk about attitude.
How lucky Glynn County was that day over 44 years ago that Roy and Anne Hodnett decided to pack up their children and their lives and move from that small Virginia town to their little slice of heaven.
Roy, we would like to honor and thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do, for our community as this year’s recipient of the Alfred W. Jones Award.
Congratulations Roy, from all of us at Hodnett Cooper!
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