Sunday, May 28, 2000

Good deeds

Local man always on call to help friends, strangers

        FORT WRIGHT — Before sunrise tomorrow, Brian Meade and his 4-year-old son will stick tiny American flags in every yard along their street. They will do this to spread patriotism on Memorial Day, and because it makes people smile.

        Mr. Meade, 35, churns out good deeds the way Stephen King does novels. His neighborliness is prolific and instinctive — so much so that one of his fans called to brag on him.

        “He is the kind of guy who makes living in Northern Kentucky a real joy,” says Mike Marino, who moved here from New York five years ago.

        Mr. Marino purchased his first home from Mr. Meade, who now lives a few doors away. One winter morning, the Marinos had an emergency with ice in their gutters. Not knowing what to do, they called the former owner.

        “He got out of bed on a Sunday morning and came over and chipped ice in the freezing winter cold for hours, and I hardly knew the guy,” Mr. Marino says.

        He's from New York. He's not used to the way Kentuckians do things.

        Mr. Meade takes the native friendliness to a new level. A real estate appraiser who rehabilitates homes on the side, he also manages to clear walkways for widows, cook chili for volunteer firefighters, rescue stranded motorists and generally run around with a box of tools.

        “I wouldn't know where to start,” gushes Katie Flanagan, 79. “He's always there whenever I call, and he is a very busy young man.”

        Mr. Meade looks out for her and another woman on the street, Ms. Flanagan says. They call him when they have plumbing problems or heavy boxes to lift — little things that make a big difference to elderly people living alone.

        Mr. Meade isn't looking for recognition. His faith in God guides how he treats people, he says, and he is blessed with a “very patient” wife. Her name is Stephanie. Their children are Hunter, 4, and Nathan, 17 months.

        “There's so much anger in this world. If people spent more time thinking about what the other person might be going through in their life and how you might be able to make them smile, there'd be less anger,” Mr. Meade says.

        At Erlanger Baptist Church, he quietly organized a group of men to be “on call” when people need help, says Darla Faris, the church secretary. Many church members probably don't realize how much assistance is provided behind the scenes, she says.

        On one occasion, Mr. Meade stopped to a help a homeless family whose car had broken down. He had the car towed and one of its tires fixed at Schwarte's Ashland Oil station, where fellow church-goer Mark Schwarte gave him a break on the cost.

        Memorial Day is especially important to Mr. Meade. As a high-school student, he attended Kentucky's Boys State camp, in which participants form their own American government, learn about the flag and talk with military representatives.

        Mr. Meade went on to volunteer at the camp for 16 years. Then he joined Squadron 203 of the Sons of the American Legion. This Saturday, he and other members will decorate 6,000 veterans' graves throughout Northern Kentucky.

        Veterans have made extraordinary sacrifices for this country, and it's important to remember them, Mr. Meade says. He thinks all young people should watch the first five minutes of Saving Private Ryan.

        At 6:30 a.m. on Monday, he and his son will carry out their own little ritual. If you happen to see them planting flags around Fort Wright, I'm sure you'll be inspired to wave.

        Their kind of spirit is contagious.

        Karen Samples can be reached at 578-5584 or


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