The Virginian-Pilot: Whatever happened to the happiest man in America?

JPwhereruThe Virginian-Pilot

© March 14, 2005

What’s not to be giddy about? He still lives in a great waterfront house. He’s still a financial adviser at a firm a few blocks from home.

He now hosts a local radio show, “Happy Talk, ” every Wednesday evening on WPMH AM 670 . He has a Web site, www.MrHappyUSA.com , where he sells T-shirts and Mr. Happy hats. He pens a column, “Happy Talk ,” for a couple of publications. He has an agent and a publicist.

And on April 1 (he likes the irony), Godsey has a book coming out. A real one, paid for by a publisher, titled “How to be Happy Everyday .”

“It made me go back and take a look at myself,” he said, “and why I got picked for happiest guy in the first place.”

It has been two years since USA Weekend magazine sifted through some statistics and decided that the happiest guy had to come from Virginia Beach, a city that was then rated the best place in America to live.

The rest was a little less scientific, but the bottom line was that the writer was given Godsey’s name and, after a short conversation, realized that this guy was perfect.

Godsey, 47 , aced some psychological tests and was awarded the crown.

“It’s been a heck of a ride, man,” he says.

All is not glee in Godsey’s world. He never got his chance to goof with idol David Letterman .

Godsey was in a cab heading for the studio when Letterman got sick and the appearance was canceled. And Godsey is separated from his wife.

He prefers to keep the details private but now lives alone in that sunny house.

Control the things you can, he notes, and make the best of the rest.

Is he still the happiest guy in the country? Who knows. The magazine never did a follow-up, so Godsey didn’t have to surrender his title.

The Best Places folks have moved on to other towns, replacing Virginia Beach as the perfect location. And being single is a statistically miserable place to be.

Just don’t try selling that sad song to Godsey . His life’s sound track is a more soothing cut of nonstop country love songs and The Mills Brothers’ crooning.

Fame is supposed to last only 15 minutes. Happiness, he believes, can be eternal.