15 years of mowing grass is one man’s gift to his friend’s widow

Acts of Kindness: "You never outgrow good manners"
For 15 years, Horace Philips has cut his friend's grass without asking for anything in return. (Source: NBC12)
For 15 years, Horace Philips has cut his friend's grass without asking for anything in return. (Source: NBC12)

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - Cutting the grass can sometimes be a huge inconvenience, especially on a hot day. But for a Petersburg man, it's not a chore - it's a simple act of kindness.

Armed with a hat, and sunglasses, Horace Philips has been cutting his neighbors grass for the past 15 years.

"It's just neighbors looking out for neighbors," Philips said. "You don't stand there and say their grass needs cut, but you're not going to do nothing about it."

It all started with a promise Philips made to his friend, Tommy Valentine.

For years, Valentine battled sickle cell anemia. As his body deteriorated, doing things around the house like cutting the grass became borderline impossible. So his friend Horace asked if he could help out, but Tommy had other plans.

"He said, I can cut my own grass. I said you right, and one day we were out there talking and he said, "do that offer still stand?"

Tommy lost his battle with sickle cell on April 4, 2003, but Horace stayed true to his word.

Charlotte Valentine, Tommy's wife, had to learn a new normal after losing her husband of 31 years.

"Before my daughter moved back home it was just me, and to tell you the truth I didn't even think about the lawn," Charlotte said.

A few weeks after Tommy's death, Charlotte was surprised to come home and see that someone cut the grass.

"I said Horace, did you cut the grass? He said yeah," Charlotte said.

And he hasn't stopped. Horace has been cutting the grass eve since and hasn't asked for anything in return.

"If she hears the lawnmower, she knew it was me," Horace said.

This may seem like a small gesture, but it's making a big impact.

Charlotte has lymphedema, which makes it hard to walk. Not to mention she's on a fixed income, so this is saving her money by not paying someone to do it. She nominated Horace for an NBC12 Act of Kindness award and said the $300 dollar gift is the least she could do to pay him back.

We asked Horace where this giving spirit came from and the answer was simple.

"Mama would slap you upside the head if she told you to go help somebody and you gave her that look," Horace said. "They instilled the goodness in you, and no matter how old you get the goodness is always there. You never outgrow good manners."

And as long as the grass grows, Horace Philips will be there to cut it.

"Tommy would be glad that Horace was there to help me, he would be grinning from ear to ear," Charlotte said.

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