Words by Terrell Manasco | Images by Ashley Wilkes
When Lacy Grice graduated from Walker High School in 1944, he enlisted in the U.S. Army after turning 18 that October. According to his son, Jeff, Lacy led an interesting life. Besides serving as senior class president, he had played high school football with George “Goober” Lindsey and was in Japan during the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Lacy returned to Jasper in 1970 to join the Primm-Wright Insurance Agency, co-owned by Dick Wright, and Lacy’s friend, John Primm. When Primm died in January 1973, Lacy left that business and founded the Lacy Grice Insurance Agency that May.
In 1976, Jeff enrolled at the University of Alabama as an accounting major. When he finished his first semester with a .53 GPA, he changed his major to insurance. “Daddy said, ‘We need to find something you can do,’” Jeff recalls.
At that time, Jeff lived on the third floor of an apartment building owned by the University Church of Christ. A friendly wager with his roommate led to a memorable first meeting with his future wife, Amy. “We were watching Monday Night Football,” Jeff explains. “He bet me I couldn’t run to the student center and back with two Cokes during the two-minute warning at the end of the first half.”
Sprinting down two flights of steps to the student center, Jeff grabbed two Cokes and darted back toward the apartment, taking a shortcut across the church’s lawn. “I forgot they had one of those little chain fences close to the ground,” he says with a sheepish grin. “I hit it coming across the lawn and got airborne, flew out into the street, and landed on my face.”
As he was laying there, Jeff heard the unmistakable sound of laughter. Amy, who lived in the same building, had witnessed the entire incident. “She hid behind a balcony, but I could hear her laughing,” Jeff grins. “She did ask me if I was all right. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Two years later, his father needed help with the business. On August 18, 1978, three days after he graduated from the University of Alabama, Jeff joined his father’s agency. He has been there ever since. “Insurance is a complicated process,” he says. “We try to simplify that as much as we can. Because of what we do, business owners and families can breathe a little easier. You come home to a house that has burned to the ground while you’ve been on vacation, and you’ve got the right insurance program in place. Doing it right and knowing that has value to our customers, that’s why you do it.”
Last August, Jeff marked his 40thyear in the business. One question he is often asked is, when are you going to retire? “That’s a fair question,” he says. “I’m 62 years old, I’ve been doing this for 40 years, when am I going to quit? My health is good, I feel great, I don’t feel any different than the first day I came here, except I know a lot more than I used to know.”
The answer, according to Jeff, is not in the near future. “I see no reason to quit,” he says. “I still like it well enough to keep doing it.” 78