Many people lend a hand when asked, but one Covington County man devotes his life to the service of others, helping with just about anything he can.
“If it’s something I can do, I don’t mind doing it to help someone,” says Robert “Leon” Thompson, a 76-year-old former long-haul truck driver from the North Creek community.
Since he retired 20 years ago, Thompson regularly helps several elderly widows in his community by completing handyman projects around their homes and providing transportation to doctor’s appointments and pharmacies, among other errands.
But, that’s not all he does. Anyone in the community who needs help knows they can call on Thompson. His most popular request? Help changing lawnmower blades.
Thompson likes to stay busy. He unlocks church doors before services and makes coffee for the members and guests of Liberty Hill Assembly of God, where he is affectionately called “Papa Leon” by the youngest members of the congregation. He also plants fruits and vegetables in the local community garden for the provision of homeless people.
His many good deeds and his humble attitude have earned Thompson support from members of his rural community who nominated him for the Silent Heroes of the Wiregrass award. The program is a partnership between Wiregrass Electric Cooperative and WTVY to recognize and support local unsung heroes who are making a positive difference in their communities. Through the Operation Round Up Foundation, honorees are presented with a $1,000 check to further their impact.
“It’s just a wonderful thing they did for me, and I’m proud to know that they think that much of me,” Thompson says. “I wouldn’t have expected anything like that ever in my life.”
When asked about his inspiration for helping his neighbors, Thompson shrugged before speaking of his service to others — described by some as life-changing interventions — as though it were a hobby he was especially fond of.
“I just grew up that way,” he says. “I watched my dad help others and it was just something I took up.”
Thompson may shy away from recognition, but WEC Chief Operating Officer Brad Kimbro says that spirit is precisely what earned him the Silent Hero honor.
“He’s just a good guy that’s trying to help people and that’s what we’re on this earth to do, is help people,” Kimbro says. “That’s what we should all aspire to do.
“Leon here is just the salt of the earth and has an attitude we wish everybody had,” Kimbro adds. “He’s doing the right things to help others and with this grant from the Operation Round Up Foundation, we know that he will continue to focus on his good work in helping that local community.”