SPIRIT OF ALABAMA: Wilmer Poyner - Alabamas13.com WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL


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How would you communicate with people if you couldn't speak? Could you make them smile, make them happy, make them glad to see you? How could you do that?

Wilmer Poyner has figured that part out. Wilmer had a bad stroke four years ago, leaving him unable to speak and, for a while, unable to do almost anything.
His doctor said to never give up, never say no, don't let anyone tell you that you can't make progress. Wilmer has lived by that.

Right after his stroke, Wilmer Poyner's legs didn't work at all. He still struggles to speak. But, he continues speech therapy and physical therapy and he walks. And he walks. And he walks some more. Every day, sometimes twice a day, Wilmer walks Brookwood Mall.

"It really, it really brightens my day. Mr. Poyner is a superstar around this mall, he really is,” Adam Nance of Village Corner said.

Wilmer and Carol Poyner will celebrate their 55th anniversary next month.

"He took care of me for 50 years so it's time for me to help him,” Carol said.

Wilmer and Carol Poyner just look like they belong together and nothing will ever come between them. Doctors will tell you that knowing you're loved is great therapy too.

Wilmer Poyner was an insurance salesman for more than 50 years and he was very good at it. These days he still in sales, the difference now is he's just selling a different product.

"And, he gets the joy to him. You can see that smile on his face, how he loves people over here, he loves to talk to them and I think it's just his way of spreading joy to everybody,” Carol said.

Larry Calmese works for Wilmer, getting him where he needs to be, helping him do the things he needs and wants to do. Larry says spreading a little joy isn't really much like a job at all.

"And, that's what he does. You know, a lot of people don't understand that if you give a smile..... You get more than a smile,” he explained.

Workers at the stores at Brookwood all keep an eye out for Wilmer, even if they have to go to a little trouble to get to him.

"It's just nice, he brightens your day because I'll be doing something and turn around and see that little head....so it's just a joy,” Randy Bradberry of Macy’s said.

"He comes almost every day, probably twice a day -- if he doesn't come in we wonder where he is. We all love him and look forward to seeing him,” Rita Little of Macy’s added.

"So, the one thing that we know is going to happen in Macy's on a daily basis is Wilmer's gonna come through, he's gonna want to give you some dap and keep on movin, he doesn't say much, a lot of times he will, he'll say have a great day but he always brightens our day,” Madeline Williams of Macy’s continued.

What a difference four years makes. What a difference determination and good doctors and a loving wife can make. Regular employees, strangers. Doesn't matter to Wilmer. He'll want to bump hands, exchange smiles and move on.

"Anybody, it doesn't matter if they're 2 years old or 92 years old he speaks to everybody..... His way of speakin,” his wife, Carol, said.

Wilmer Poyner is 75. He could have given in and given up four years ago. But, he chose to live every day to it's fullest and spread his smile and pleasant way everywhere he can. That's the spirit of Alabama.

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