James Paul Godsey (J.P. “Gus” Godsey) was selected as “The Happiest Man in America” by USA Weekend magazine in March 2003.[Citation 1] USA Weekend was attempting to find the happiest man in America and found that Virginia Beach, VA was picked as the best place to live in America. They went there and did countless interviews and surveys. Eventually tests were administered by Martin E. P. Seligman, Ph.D., nationally acclaimed happiness expert and author of Authentic Happiness [Citation 2]. Godsey scored in the top percentile of the 70,000-plus people worldwide who have taken the tests. In fact, “Dr. Marty” was so astounded by Godsey’s scores he made him take the tests three times.
Godsey was born in Laport, IN, on November 1, 1957, to parents Paul and Doris Godsey. Susan, Paul James Jr. (P.J.), and James Paul (J.P.) were born one year apart from each other. Two half-brothers, Jason and Guy, were born from his father’s second marriage to stepmother Mary Godsey. Godsey moved consistently after his mother and father separated in 1960. Godsey, his siblings, and his mother moved in with his mother‘s sister in Lancaster, PA, until 1968. His mother then decided to get her master’s degree in nursing. Sister Sue stayed with her aunt while Godsey and brother P.J. shipped out to Albuquerque, NM, to live with another sister of their mother’s. Godsey and P.J. moved back with their mother, this time to Elkins, WV, where he finished junior high school. His father decided he would like to have the kids back in Indiana. So they were off again and enrolled in Manual High School in Indianapolis. After one year, Godsey’s mother changed her mind and wanted them back. His mother moved to Buckhannon, WV, where she had accepted a job as a nursing professor at West Virginia Wesleyan College. This is where Godsey graduated from high school and college. He was married to Sheila Kilpatrick in 1985 and later divorced in 1989. He married Judith Greenhaw in 1998 and divorced in 2005.
High School: At Buckhannon Upshur High School, he began a 13-year career in wrestling and played football and baseball.
College: At West Virginia Wesleyan College, he received a bachelor of science in business management and economics. He was class president and president of his fraternity, Theta Chi. He was also involved in several athletic programs, college activities, and clubs, all while working 40 hours a week.
Post-College Education: Godsey received extensive securities degrees in management, securities trading, commodities, insurance, and a certified senior advisor designation.
Godsey’s first job was shoveling sidewalks in Lancaster, PA, when he was seven years old. This led into a successful yard mowing and paper route in New Mexico. Junior high school involved a job at a food processing plant in Indianapolis. In Buckhannon, he worked his way through high school and college as a yard boy, maintenance man, maid, night watchman, and bartender/bouncer. He graduated and accepted his first professional job as the initial manager of the newly opened 2001/VIP nightclub in rapidly expanding Myrtle Beach, SC. This was the “spot to be” and was packed night to night in the disco heyday. He left after two years to go back home and accepted a job as the campaign manager for his former boss and father figure J.D. Hinkle, who was running for Congress. He left this and worked for two years as a sales/public relations representative for the Washington Federals of the United States Football League. After getting married, he moved to Norfolk/Virginia Beach and began a 25-year career as a successful stockbroker with three different firms. After hosting several weekly shows for 20 years, he let the brokerage business to begin a career as a radio talk show host for WHKT “Freedom 1650” AM, heard 3-6 p.m. EST and streaming on his website. He left the radio business on December 31, 2010, to accept a job as a training consultant for a technology training firm.
Godsey achieved numerous academic and athletic awards during his high school, college, and professional careers. Godsey was selected repeatedly as one of the “Outstanding Young Men in America” during the 1980s for being a community leader. In 2003, he was selected as “The Happiest Man In America” by USA Weekend magazine. His list of volunteer activities is legendary. He, along with friends, began the MrHappyUSA Foundation to focus on the needs of seniors, especially focusing on senior abuse. He wrote his first book How To Be Happy EVERY DAY in 2005, and it was re-released in 2008 [Citation 3]. His second book, How To Be Happy in HARD TIMES was released in 2010 [Citation 4]. Both have received critical acclaim. He was an award-winning host for his “drive-time, your-time, live-time” radio show , The J.P. Godsey Show, heard Monday-Friday, 3-6 PM EST on WHKT “Freedom 1650” in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.
- Founder and Chairman of the MrHappyUSA Foundation, serving seniors, 2005-present
- Finance Committee member, Board of Directors, Ervin “Blueprint” Parker Leadership Academy, 2002-present
- Board member, Virginia Beach Events Steering Committee, 2002-present
- Treasurer, Theta Chi International Foundation Chapter, 2002-2004
- Board member, Theta Chi International Foundation Chapter, 1990-2004
- Founder and Chairman, The Richard Hassell Foundation, 2001-2005
- Director, The Mills Brothers International Society, 2000-2005
- President, Earning by Learning Foundation, Hampton Roads, 1997-2009
- Board member, Earning by Learning Foundation, Hampton Roads, 1993-present
- President, Tidewater Chapter of the West Virginia Wesleyan Alumni Association,
- Member, West Virginia Wesleyan Alumni Council, 1991-2001
- Initiator and Director, annual Multi-Corporate Turkey/Clothing/Toy Drives during
Thanksgiving and Christmas, Christian Action (now RHF) and Mothers, Inc.,
- Commissioner, Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission, 2002-2008
- Industry Leader/Recruitment Leader, Annual American Heart Walk, 1993-1997
- Corporate Leader, annual telepledge to benefit the American Heart Association,
- Initiator and director; Corporate College Intern Program; Prudential Securities;
Virginia Beach, Virginia; 1988-1997
- Recruitment and Company Leader; United Way; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and
Hampton Roads; 1980-1997
- Vice President, West Virginia Wesleyan Alumni Council, 1991-1995
- Vice President and Finance Director, Delta Gamma Chapter of Theta Chi Fraternity
Alumni Association, 1986-1995
- Chairman, West Virginia Wesleyan Athletic Hall of Fame Inaugural Task Force,
- Organizational Chairman; Hurricane Andrew Relief Fund; Virginia Beach, Virginia;
- Big Brother; Big Brothers and Big Sisters; Virginia Beach, Virginia; 1988-1991
- Volunteer; Reading for the Blind Program; WHRO Radio; Norfolk, Virginia; 1986
- Co-Manager, Villanueva for City Council (Mr. Villanueva was the first Filipino elected to
an office in the state of Virginia), 2002
- Steering Committee member, Maddox for City Council, 2002
- Nominator; Speech for Lt. Governor John Hager; Republican State Convention in
Richmond, Virginia; 2001
- Delegate; Republican National Convention; Philadelphia, 2000, and New York City, 2004
- Member, Virginia Beach Republican City Committee, 1991-present
- Chairman, Virginia Beach Republican City Committee, 1996-1999
- Chairman, Hampton Roads Republican Alliance and Five City Festival, 1996-1999
- 2nd District Republican Convention Chairman, Virginia Beach, Virginia, 1994
- Finance Chairman, Virginia Beach Republican City Committee, 1993-1999
- Finance Chairman; Chapman for Congress; Virginia Beach, Virginia; 1992 and 1994
- 83rd Legislative Coordinator, Virginia Beach Republican City Committee, 1991-1993
- Delegate to all the Republican 2nd District and State Conventions; Virginia Beach,
- Volunteer; Steering Committee and Finance Chairman for numerous Delegate/Senate
races in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Virginia; 1985-present
- Co-Manager, Hinkle for Congress, 2nd District of West Virginia, 1982