For J.J. Messervy, failure is not an option; it’s not even a word in the man’s vocabulary.
That is not to say he doesn’t make mistakes – he readily admits that he is not perfect – far from it.
But that motivation to meet any challenge, learn from mistakes, overcome obstacles, and accomplish that which he sets out to do is a major facet of Messervy’s personality.
“My family is just like that – I don’t really know what drives us,” he said.
He talks about his grandfathers – one was a doctor, the other a lumberman. Both were hard-working, high achieving men, and his lumberman grandfather had a favorite maxim that Messervy says somewhat sums up his outlook on life.
“My lumberman grandfather had a sign in his office that talked about a man who owned a ferry business,” he said. “Someone asked the man how many times a day he made the trip across the river and back. He said, ‘I do it as many times as I can, because if I don’t go, I don’t get.’ That’s kind of my mindset.”
In fact Messervy has always been self-motivated. He has dyslexia, but he never allowed that to be an obstacle or an excuse for not achieving. In fact, he graduated from the University of South Carolina magna cum laude. He came back home to Summerville and immediately got involved in a variety of community organizations and causes, including the Exchange Club, the Clemson Extension Master Gardeners Program and the Frances R. Willis SPCA. He is currently the public address announcer for the Summerville High School Green Wave Varsity Football Team.
Messervy’s fundraising ability is remarkable. The year before he joined the SPCA Board of Directors, the annual oyster roast fundraiser netted some $6,500 in profit. He took it over and the following year it netted nearly $30,000. Ultimately he would serve as vice president, president, and fund raising chairman and in addition to fund raising efforts, he would help establish a spay/neuter partnership between the FWSPCA and the Charleston Animal Society.
He helped co-found the Dorchester County Foundation, which distributes funds to non-profits throughout the county; that group’s fundraising efforts have brought in some $500,000 in two years.
As County Auditor, Messervy says he strives to help people – and the community -- every day in a variety of ways. He has improved collections of personal property taxes by establishing an out of state tag program. He improved collections of business personal property taxes by working with county and municipal business license officials to withhold business license renewals until past due taxes are paid. He has provided information to municipalities, school districts, and fire districts on the tax billing and collections process and assisted the county and other entities by improving the collection of solid waste and storm water fees.
Most importantly, he has been able to help educate citizens about taxpayer rights and responsibilities.
“One of the things I really like about this job is that I am in a position to disseminate useful and accurate information,” he said. “I can clearly explain situations and outline the ramifications of potential decisions they need to make.”
“What can I say? I’m deeply interested in tax issues, and I am happy to share what I learn – I guess I’m weird that way,” he added with a laugh.
But he’s definitely not an all work, no play kind of guy, either. On the contrary, his is more of a work hard/play hard attitude, and happily, Summerville and Dorchester County are beneficiaries of his seemingly tireless energies. A Master Gardener, he enjoys his time “digging in the dirt” and enjoys a variety of events and activities.
But most of all, he loves being with his family, his wife Beth and son, Hoby, he said.
“By far, the single greatest thing I’ve ever had happen to me is having a child,” he said. “My son is three now – I’m doing micro-soccer coaching, among other things.”
Ultimately, Messervy’s outlook is one of enjoying the moment and doing as much good as one can along the way, he said.
“It’s not what you make, it’s not the people you know, it’s the mark you make in your community,” he said. “I love Summerville and Dorchester County and my objective in life is to leave it a better place than I found it.”