“Jesus says people who live the vulnerable life of connection and relationship will bear much fruit. These are the people we trust, like and admire.” -Richard Rohr
Jeff Myhand was one of those blessed people who would come to bear many baskets of fruit as a husband, father, grandfather, business leader and committed citizen of Macon, Georgia and beyond.
The overflow gathering at his Celebration of Life July 28 showed his impact on hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
Consider just two accomplishments of this “Servant Leader,” as his friend, the Rev. Joe McDaniel, aptly described Jeff.
The Ocmulgee River famously flooded Downtown Macon in 1994. Jeff was in charge of operations for the city’s largest and best-paying industry, Brown & Williamson Tobacco.
Jeff dispatched every truck in his company’s large fleet to make continuous roundtrips to nearby Milledgeville bringing potable water to Maconites who had none. Further, he sent a crack team of his engineers to aid the municipal water authority in reopening
the intake valve that brought river water to the treatment plant.
The second accomplishment involved the local United Way. He challenged his work force to contribute $500,000 to the year’s fundraising drive. If met, he said, Brown & Williamson would match the $500,000.
Mission accomplished. United Way got $1,000,000.
Jeff was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2020. He was determined to fight back with the quiet determination that marked his life.
He was a charter member of the PD Fit exercise program at Middle Georgia State University for Parkinson’s sufferers. He rarely missed a three-times-a-week, 90-minute class.
He gave his all at every class.
PD had attacked Jeff’s voice, leaving him with hardly a whisper. Accompanied by wife Rita, he engaged a speech therapist, practiced, and improved.
I greeted him at the beginning of each PD Fit class in my most stentorian voice. “Good morning, Jeff.”
“Good morning, Gil,” he responded in as loud a voice as he could muster.
PD Fit exercise coach Lindsey Justice was stunned at news of Jeff’s swift demise from Covid 19 on July 23.
“My heart is broken! I’m in shock,” she said. “Jeff was just hollering ‘top of the morning to ya!’ in class.”
One of our class exercises is lifting each arm as if we are dropping fruit in a basket with loving care.