“Respect each other and play by the rules and you’ll be alright.” These words sound like good advice we might give our children here at Epworth. Yet, they were spoken by Mr. J.W. Hendrix a few years ago when asked about his recipe for being a good citizen. Mr. Hendrix’s words are simple, yet very wise, and they are words he followed in his own life as he built successful businesses and served as a leader in his community.
Epworth is most fortunate that Mr. Hendrix provided a substantial gift to Epworth in his will. His generosity will allow us to develop programs and services that will help instill his legacy of respecting others in our Epworth children for years to come.
J.W. Hendrix lived in the West Columbia area for his entire life. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned home and soon took over the operation of a grocery store and gas station on Augusta Highway. Over the years, he expanded his grocery business to several stores, but he always gave his customers personal attention and much kindness.
His “flagship” store that had the most impact on his West Columbia community was the Hendrix Red and White Grocery and Hardware. Customers there could buy groceries, gas, all kinds of hardware, and even ride Sandy, his famous mechanical riding horse, for one dime. Best of all, Mr. Hendrix’s customers remember his friendly service and his dedication to providing them with a neighborhood store that could meet all their grocery and hardware needs. His store even served as an official polling place during elections. In an age when huge superstores and impersonal chain stores have taken over most of the business landscape, people fondly remember Mr. Hendrix’s interest and enthusiasm in making sure his stores were focused on local customer satisfaction and service.
J.W. Hendrix displayed leadership throughout his community, serving on Lexington County Council, numerous community committees, and as a co-founder of the statewide Food Retailers Association, a network of local grocery stores that worked to provide better quality standards and service to customers. He was an active member of Mt. Hebron United Methodist Church and served on many committees there over the years. Mr. Hendrix also was a talented musician who loved to get together with friends on Friday nights at Bill’s Picking Parlor in West Columbia. His mother had taught him how to play the guitar when he was a child, and he enjoyed picking and playing music all his life.
Respecting his fellow citizens, loving his community, serving that community with his own leadership and experience, and understanding the joy of living, made Mr. J.W. Hendrix a special man. He shared his talents, insights, and hard work all his life with those in his community. Now, after his death, his generosity will continue to help others. Epworth will use Mr. Hendrix’s gift to serve our children as they learn and grow into young women and men of whom we hope Mr. Hendrix would be proud.