The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Top News

March 30, 2013

Legacy of service

GREENVILLE — Executive Director of the Hope Center of Greenville Jerry Speight has led a lifetime of service.

From his days in the Air Force, to his work with the needy in Hunt County, Jerry’s main goal is to give to those in need. This drive to serve was instilled in him from a young age by his grandfather, father, mother and uncles as he grew up on a 50—acre farm in the rural community of Scatterbranch, near Commerce, and has continued to motivate him to this day.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the work ethic established by my father has set a direction for me that is unchanged,” Jerry said.

His father was a unique individual by today’s standards, a man who labored from dawn until dusk with a limited amount of tools and machinery that he spent a tremendous amount of care keeping in good shape; a man who would drop what he was doing to complete the chores of a neighbor who was sick.

“Dad had a Model T Ford that he traded calves for,” Jerry said. “He walked from the Scatterbranch community to Greenville and drove it back.”

That was an 11-mile walk, by the way.

Jerry tells a story of when McCool’s Garage in Commerce burned down. Jerry’s dad had work done at the garage, but hadn’t paid Pete McCool yet because it was the off season, and farmers didn’t pay their bills until after the crops had been harvested and sold.

“When he heard that the garage had burned, my dad went to the bank, pulled out the money he owed, which he had kept an exact account of, and found Pete McCool. ‘This is what I owe you; I heard you needed it,’ my dad said to Pete,” Jerry said. “The ethics and integrity of that had a lifelong impact.”

But his father wasn’t his only role model. Jerry’s mother served the community all her life, a life that spanned almost a century.

“We lived on the Cotton Belt Railroad,” Jerry said. “I grew up with hobos. The word spread through the homeless community that you could get good care at my house. My mother never turned away any hobo. She would have them sit on the porch, she would fix food for them and she would send them off with food. If there was a shirt that she could sew or give them, she would do that.”

The impact of the service of his parents can directly be related to the joy Jerry has in serving the disadvantaged in Hunt County.

“I never knew anything else,” he said. “Dad would be so thrilled today, if he were alive, to be involved with the Hope Center.”

Jerry recognized the contrast between the efforts of his parents and the current popular culture of instant gratification.

“My dad and mom had a good name in the Scatterbranch community and in Commerce,” he said. “They paid the price of building relationships with people; it’s time­—consuming, and it’s hard work. In our current culture, we want something done instantly.”

While service projects, including summer mission trips to other countries, can be beneficial, sometimes those efforts are made at the expense of local needs, according to Jerry.

“We will do a service project, and in some way for some people I think that relieves guilt for them not doing something they feel they should be doing,” he said. “We’ve walled off our lives, our cities, our neighborhoods; somehow we have gotten the idea that we’ll get out of our walls for two weeks. We’ll even go to a foreign country, we’ll serve and we’ll do great things; and that’s OK. That can do a lot of good. But what about the people in your neighborhood?”

Now in his 70s, having overcome heart surgery and currently healing from skin cancer surgery, many people would be enjoying a life of retirement on the golf course or cruising the Caribbean. But, for Jerry, service is a way to recharge, thanks to the support of his wife of more than 50 years, Brenda.

“Without Brenda’s support, I could not be refreshed,” he said. “That is number one. And I just have to pray that God gives me the strength to keep on. I can’t envision myself not having a life that’s relational. I was raised that way; it’s refreshing to me to find a need and to meet it.”

Jerry has built his own legacy of service in Greenville, and Hunt County is a much better place because of it.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Vaderrobot.jpg Dallas champions, Robowranglers look forward

    Practicing with the best hones skills and keeps members of Greenville High School Robowranglers on point, according to Director of Robotics Adrienne Emerson.
    The Robowranglers are preparing their robot “Vader” for the FIRST World Championships in St. Louis on April 23-26.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Texas drougnt as of 4-17-2014.jpg Wet Easter Sunday possible

    It may be a wet Easter holiday in North Texas, as thunderstorms are again in the forecast for the weekend.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff's Office Wanted fugitive captured in Ellis County

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Band1.jpg Roaring with pride

    The Greenville High School Lion Pride Band performs well under pressure, according to GHS band director Joel Weisburg

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Royce Tawater.jpg Shooting suspect changes mind on guilty pleas

    On second thought, a local man will leave it up to a jury to decide whether he is guilty of multiple charges in connection with two shootings in Greenville last summer.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Easter Eggstravaganza stork photo.jpg A hunting we will go

    There will be lots of brightly colored eggs hidden in the grasses across Hunt County this weekend, and plenty of opportunities for children to find them.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • GEUS Operations Center.jpg Saying thanks to police

    The board of the local electric utility system intends to take time tonight to thank officers with the Greenville Police Department for catching suspects who allegedly broke into the company’s headquarters last month.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Field.jpg GISD trustees approve replacing track, turf

    When the Greenville High School football team takes the field in August, they will be marching out onto new turf.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Royce Tawater.jpg Guilty pleas expected in July 2013 shootings

    A  Greenville man, sentenced to state prison earlier this year on a weapons charge, is scheduled to plead guilty today to multiple counts involving two different shootings in July 2013.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • GPD stock photo.jpg Guilty plea given in child injury case

    A local woman has pleaded guilty to seriously injuring a child in Greenville in February of last year.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Featured Ads
Poll

What's your favorite spring high school sport?

Swimming and diving
Wrestling
Basketball
Soccer
Tennis
Golf
Track and Field
Softball
Baseball
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Real Estate News