‘I’m wealthy in life’

Drinkard celebrates with Sacred Heart students

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Sacred Heart second graders gather around Roy Drinkard as he provides words of wisdom. (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Students at Sacred Heart School on Friday celebrated their 100th day of school by dressing up as 100-year-olds, and the second-grade class was in for a special treat. Cullman’s most treasured centenarian, Roy Drinkard, visited the eager students and shared stories from his life, from the time he was born in 1920 until today.

At 102, Drinkard is sharp as a tack and considers every day a blessing.

Asked if he had ever been bullied as a youngster, Drinkard answered honestly and told of a time when he intended to bully another young boy.

“One time I was going to bully a boy,” Drinkard shared. “I was going to push him down and make him eat grass. Instead, he ended up pushing me down and I ate grass. I remember that lesson well!”

Asked questions by the students about everything ranging from how much property he owns to how many chickens he had growing up, Drinkard took all the questions in stride and a few made him chuckle with a sparkle in his eyes.

When asked if his father was as wealthy as Drinkard is today, he responded with grace and gratitude saying, “I’m wealthy in life. I’m wealthy because of my children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren. I’m wealthy because of the way people treat me here and because I have Jesus in my heart.”

He talked about the importance of hard work and his first job cleaning out the family’s chicken houses when young, to which a student asked, “You had to clean up chicken poop?” He did, in fact, have to clean up the poop of 10,000 chickens. When he shared about not have a telephone until the age of 25, the second graders shared a collective “Wow!”

Roy Drinkard is pictured with Jennifer Grey and her second-grade class at Sacred Heart School. (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

As Drinkard told the children about failing school in the second grade, their gasps were audible. He explained that after that year, he made straight As for the rest of his school years.

He continued to speak with great fondness of his two daughters and their accomplishments and his storied military career.

As their time together came to an end, a student asked teacher Jennifer Grey if Drinkard could stay and go to break with them. The students, despite their young age, sensed the value of Drinkard’s wisdom gained from over 102 years of good living and wanted to learn more life lessons from him. God willing, we’ll all have that chance.

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