Neighbor: Earl Helms is a

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 18, 2000

hometown humanitarian


Features Editor

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Aug. 17, 2000

If Earl Helms only had one dime to his name and somebody needed it, he would give it to them.

Helms won’t tell you that but anyone who knows him will say that it’s true.

He has served his country, his community and his church unselfishly and with great pride. And, he has done it all as a volunteer – asking nothing in return and accepting nothing.

For all that he has done in service to others, Helms well be honored Sunday by the congregation of Brundidge United Methodist Church, his family and friends at Earl Helms Day at BUMC.

Ask him about his service and he modestly says he doesn’t like to talk about himself.

He will say that he is the product of a Christian home and that he has a strong faith in God and accepts the biblical challenge that he is his brother’s keeper.

Helms grew up in the rural community of Chestnut Grove and, at the time when Chestnut trees sheltered the close-knit community that was bound by family ties and strong friendships.

"There really wasn’t much to do in Chestnut Grove so we just enjoyed the fellowship of each other," Helms said.

He attended the first three grades at the school at Chestnut Grove.

"We had

two teachers for the three grades but then they closed the school and we went to Zion Chapel," Helms said. "But, when I was in the ninth grade, we got a car and a bunch of us went to Brundidge to school."

Coming to a "big, city school" was a shock, Helms said.

"The first two years, I went to school on the hill but, when the new school was built on South Main Street, we went there. The new school had a lunchroom and that was a big deal for us. My class, the Class of

’49, was the first to graduate from the new school."

Helms’s dad, the late T.L. "Louie" Helms had purchased a third interest in a sawmill in Brundidge, Tillman, Helms and Keller. The elder Helms was a farmer and construction man by profession and ownership of a lumber company was a natural progression.

He soon moved his family from Chestnut Grove "out in the country" near Shiloh and Earl went to work with him at the sawmill when he was out of school in the summer.

"At first, we worked from a portable sawmill," Helms said. "We took the sawmill out the site and I spent a lot of time snaking logs out of the woods with a mule and totin’ slabs. It was hot, tiring work and the red bugs would eat you up."

Helms attended Troy State College and then transferred to Auburn where he received a degree in agricultural engineering. After graduation, he got greetings from Uncle Sam and served at Fort Jackson, S. C. and in Germany at the end of the Korean Conflict.

Helms laughingly said he decided against a career in the military the minute he got his

"uncle’s" letter. After two years of service to his country, Helms came home to Brundidge and went to work with his dad, who had purchased sole interest in the lumber company.

Helms immediately began to commitment his time and talents to service to his community and his church.

"I’ve always liked people and I just enjoy doing what I can to help out where there is a need," he said. "I grew up in a big family and we always helped each other out and I guess that just became a part of

who I am. Helping people brings me a lot of satisfaction and it fills a need in my life."

That’s about all Helms would say about his service because nothing he does for others is done for recognition.

But his community has said volumes about his service to his fellow man.

The Brundidge Lions Club, voted him the Most Valuable Lion and the Lions Club International presented him the Melvin Jones Fellow Award for dedicated humanitarian services.

The Brundidge Chamber of Commerce twice presented him the Distinguished Service Award. The Brundidge Business Association presented him their Humanitarian Award. The Pike Count Chamber of Commerce voted him the Pike County Man of the Year and the Brundidge Rotary Club presented him their Citizenship Award.

Helms helped to organize the PCOCUS, county outreach program, and continues to head the local ministries outreach program at his church.

He is a member of the Tupper Lightfoot Memorial Library Board, the Pike County Library Association, the executive committee of OCAP, and Pike County Hospice.

He is also a member of the R.E. Barr Nutrition Center and he delivers meals to shut ins every Thursday.

Helms believes in the old adage that says -Bloom where you’re planted. Helms is "planted" in Brundidge.

"This is where I belong," he said.

And, it’s certainly where he blooms.