Verbena community loses dear friend

Published 9:20 pm Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jewell Calloway, former postmaster of the Verbena Post Office, died Thursday at age 85.

Calloway was known for her courtesy, friendliness and sincere desire to help anyone with a need.

She would often go out of her way to read mail, explain bills and sort through insurance paperwork for people who were unable to read, Calloway’s granddaughter, Deborah Tucker, recalled.

“They’d come, and they would want Ms. Jewell to help them with their mail,” Tucker said. “That’s not something the post office does for you, but that’s something grandmother did for the local people that weren’t able to do it on their own.”

“Ms. Jewell,” as she was affectionately known, was big on manners. This included not only setting a table properly but also everyday courtesy and respect toward individuals, regardless of their standing.

“She was the authority,” Tucker said. “If you didn’t know, you could call grandmother, and she would tell you how it should be done. She always said good manners were to help make everyone else comfortable.”

Calloway first became associated with the post office while her husband, Winston, was serving in World War II. She became good friends with postmaster Gladys DeRamus and eventually took over for N.J. Robinson as an assistant.

Calloway worked her way up to postmaster, a position she held for many years until her retirement in 1989.

“I think that job interested mother,” daughter Ann Rainwater said. “Meeting people and helping people — that’s what she was all about.”

Calloway was also deeply involved in the community — the school’s PTA, Boys Ranch, Girls Ranch, Business and Professional Women, Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Alabama Historical Society. She was an active member of Verbena Methodist Church.

“She loved history, and she loved the history of Verbena,” Rainwater said, describing how her mother compiled massive amounts of notes, historical articles and photos to preserve the area’s history.

After Calloway’s husband became unable to walk due to cancer, she served as his caregiver for several years. In return, she received many visits as a resident of Prattville Health and Rehab, where she would speak to everyone she saw.

“She would refuse to let them roll her [toward the wall] because she was afraid she would miss somebody and not get to tell them, ‘Hi,’” Rainwater said.

Services for Calloway will be Saturday at 1 p.m. at Martin Funeral Home Chapel.