Tuesday, January 06, 2015

James Henry Mathews - He Did it Right

It seems like another lifetime ago.  I graduated from UGA and then Mortuary College and came home to join my older brother and my dad in the family business …or should I say businesses.  There were a couple of funeral homes, an ambulance service and we built a brand new grocery store - leaving the building my family had occupied for over 100 years.

I learned a lot.  When I think I was only 23 years old at the time amazes me.  I actually learned a whole lot.  The hard way.

I learned about making payroll.  I learned about borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. I learned about responsibility.  I learned about stress.  I learned about people and leadership.  It was the worst of times.

But was the best of times.

There is no doubt all I learned by jumping into the fire  at a young age in the business world helped me later in life and in what I do today.

These memories came rushing back to me this morning when I read on Facebook that James Henry Mathews had passed away.

I’m not sure the year we hired him at Goddard Red & White Grocery Store, but I would guess it would be 1978.   His dad (Son Buddy Mathews) brought him in the store and asked us if we would consider hiring him.  My brother and I gave him a shot.

James Mathews seized the opportunity.

I don’t think I ever knew anyone who tried harder than James did.  He was never late to work.  And he never stopped until he punched the clock when he was leaving.  He made a few mistakes along the way but we didn’t care.  He made up for it with his determination.

Determination to do well.  Determination to keep the first real job he ever had.  

It wasn’t long before he knew every customer who came in the store.  He would speak to them and call them by name and thank them for shopping with us.  The entire community loved him.

And we loved him.

We sold the store after about four years of operating it.  James stayed with the new owners for a year or so.  But others in the business community had also noticed him.  He was soon offered a job at Flint Electric Membership Corp and ended up working there until he retired.

My brother and I had nothing to do with James having a great career and life.  I am very glad we gave him an opportunity. .  He earned his career by his own determination to do well that came from a strong faith in God that was instilled in him by his parents.   All I can do is tip my hat to him.

Tonight I also thank God I had the privilege to know him and at one time be a part of his life.

RIP buddy.  You did it right.

1 comment:

streetrodder said...

Bruce you are right, he even knew what car/truck the customer was in and usually had the groceries in the car before they came out. I had the opportunity to work with James and continued to work with him for years at Flint. RIP James