By the time this is published, my close friend and fellow Geezer, retired Army veteran and resident of Opelika, Bennie Adkins, will have been awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in Washington.

Bennie served in Vietnam, and the courage and bravery he displayed during one of his three tours are well documented.

Seldom mentioned are other admirable characteristics of Bennie. He is a gentleman of the highest order and is generous to a fault, the latter I became aware of following the death of my son, Robert Jr.

At the time of his death, Robert was proprietor of a pet shop and owned two cars and a house. I was responsible for settling his estate.

Robert was a rather sloppy bookkeeper, and I couldn’t make heads or tails of the business paperwork he left behind. I put all I could find in a box, took it to Bennie, an accountant, and said, “Bennie, here’s all the stuff from Robert’s pet shop. Do what needs to be done with it, and I’ll gladly pay you for your work.”

Bennie called a few days later and told me he had done what I asked. I went to Bennie’s office, signed some checks for taxes, fees, rent, etc., and asked him what I owed him. Bennie said, “Bob,  I know what you’re going through, and you don’t owe me anything.” I’m confident that Bennie spent hours if not days making sense of the contents of that box, and I will be eternally grateful for the kindness and generosity he displayed to me during that stressful period of my life.

But Bennie was not the only person who exhibited generosity at the time. Robert had a balance on his account at Ware Jewelers, and I went to the store and told Mr. Ware I wanted to pay what was owed. He said, “Robert has done a lot of business with us and has paid so much in interest that we’re going to waive that debt.”

I should also mention a company and an individual that I appreciate for their honesty. I had bought a life insurance policy on Robert when he was a youngster and took to AIG Ins. Co., along with a death certificate, to file a claim. I told the lady at the office that I believed I was owed  $6,000. “By tomorrow, we’ll have your claim processed,” she said. When I returned the next day, I was told that the company owed me $8,000, and I was presented with a check for that amount.

Doug Knight, owner of Knight Rides in Opelika, was, when Robert died, dealing with used cars. I took one of Robert’s cars to Doug, and we agreed on an asking price and his comimission. A few days later Doug informed me that he had sold the car. “I looked at the paperwork on the car,” he told me, “and I saw that Robert had purchased an extended warranty. It  was transferable, and the car was worth $3,000 more than we agreed on, so I added that amount to the purchase price.”

A dishonest dealer would have pocketed the $3,000 and adjusted the bill of sale accordingly.

On the environmental front, there’s some good news. As nearly everyone living in areas where removal of mountaintops to mine coal is aware, the practice is detrimental to the areas’ aesthetic appeal and results in pollution of streams downstream from the removals. Studies reveal that nine of every ten such streams are impaired. A federal appeals court has upheld EPA’s authority to scrutinize stream pollution resulting from mountaintop removal.

Public health authorities report that tens of thousands of Americans will live longer, healthier lives as a result of recent court decisions that will curb air pollutants from industrial sources. One such decision was rendered by the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that upheld EPA’s 2012 Mercury and Air Toxic Rule, which the coal industries opposed.

After years of pressure from health authorities and conservationists, children, pets, and wildlife  will benefit as a result of the manufacturer’s decision to stop producing the highly toxic rat poison, d-CON, and to remove it from retailers’ shelves beginning next year.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Department of Zoology and Entomology at Auburn University. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.