The Dart – Friendly neighbor helps out

Published 12:08 am Monday, August 20, 2007

VIDALIA — Johnny Lee Marsaw may be retired, but that doesn’t mean he’s bored.

He’s too busy doing good deeds.

Along with his yard at 805 Magnolia St., where the dart landed this week, he regularly mows his neighbors’ yards and won’t take a dime for the work.

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“I do it for the exercise,” Marsaw said. “I ran out of yard cutting my own.”

Even in the middle of summer, he’ll mow five or six yards, he said, but he tries to do it early in the morning or in the evening when it’s slightly cooler.

“I worked in the sun all my life, so it doesn’t bother me,” he said.

Marsaw grew up 805 Magnolia St., Vidalia. At a young age, he moved to Texas to work constructing bridges. He came by it naturally, he said.

“My daddy was a construction worker,” Marsaw said. “That’s what I loved.”

Two years ago, Marsaw retired and soon moved back to Vidalia to care for his mother. When she died in April, he continued living in the house in which he and his siblings were raised.

Even though he mows yards for free, people always give him thank-you gifts.

But his favorite gift is just a simple, “thank you,” he said.

“That’s why I do it,” he said.

Tammy Thomas, who lives at 706 Magnolia St., works as a cook at Nikki’s Restaurant, so she doesn’t always have time to worry about yard work.

“(Johnny Lee) does a good job,” Thomas said. “Even when it’s 106 degrees outside, he cuts the grass.”

Thomas’ yard was one of the first on Marsaw’s list to trim. Marsaw grew up with Thomas’ father and a group who lived on the street, Thomas said. After Thomas’ father and most of the group died, Marsaw took a leading role.

“He’s the only one left living, so he takes care of everybody,” Thomas said. “I appreciate him mowing, because I can’t do it.”

Two houses down, Alice Nolden also sees Marsaw regularly. Several months ago, Nolden’s yard had grown up a little, and Marsaw knocked on her door and asked if she had someone to cut it.

“I said I didn’t,” Nolden said. “I came home from work the next day, and it was cut. It’s very neighborly of him to do things like that for us.”