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Merritt named ERMC employee of quarter

Features Editor

Dec. 21, 1999 11 PM

When James Merritt was six months old, he contracted polio and his left side was completely paralyzed. But when he was about eight years old, his prayers were answered and he walked for the first time.

During those eight years, Merritt had to sit and watch other children run and play. In his young mind, he vowed if he could ever walk, he would take whatever life handed him with a smile on his face and a thankful heart.

He has been good on his promise to himself. From that moment on, Merritt’s attitude has been positive and, if he gets upset, nobody knows but him.

On Dec. 21, Merritt was honored by his co-workers when he was named employee of the quarter at Edge Regional Medical Center.

In making the presentation, David Loving, hospital CEO, praised Merritt for the very things Merritt had committed himself to as a child.

"James always has a smile on his face and he will do anything that is asked of him and then some," Loving said. "I have never heard a cross word from him and there have been times when he has had every right to have a cross word. James Merritt deserves to be our employee of the quarter."

Merritt’s co-workers were as complimentary as their boss.

Rosa Lee Boswell, who is also an employee of the quarter for 1999, said Merritt "is the best person in the hospital."

"He never complains, he never puts you off and he is always courteous and has a smile on his face," Boswell said. "If anybody deserves to be employee of the quarter, it’s James."

Boswell laughingly said she could say even more about him, "but we’ve got to compete against each other for the employee of the year."

Congratulations and handshakes from his fellow employees confirmed the accolades of Loving and Boswell.

Merritt accepted them graciously.

"I didn’t expect to get this but I’m proud of it," he said. "I want people to think good of me."

Merritt said his experiences as a sick child and the teachings in school and those of his dad, shaped his attitude toward life.

"I try to live like I was taught," he said. "In school we learned how to get along with people and the right things and the wrong things. My daddy always told me not to say anything I might regret, so it’s best to just not say anything when you’re upset and then you don’t have anything to regret."

And, Merritt has no regrets about spending 30 years of his life at Edge.

"I was working on a chicken farm and the man I worked for told me he didn’t know how long he would be able to use me," Merritt said. "But he told me he heard they needed people to help them get the new hospital ready to move into and I might get on there."

Merritt got on and he stayed on.

"I was just so proud of a job," he said. "Because I had polio, I don’t have as good of use of my left side as I could and I just didn’t know if I would ever be able to get a good job. But this job has been good to me and I appreciate it every day."