Blackmon celebrates 90th birthday with family, friends

Published 9:02 pm Monday, September 23, 2013

90 years young: Clanton resident Helen Blackmon celebrated her 90th birthday on Sept. 22 with family and friends.

90 years young: Clanton resident Helen Blackmon celebrated her 90th birthday on Sept. 22 with family and friends.

Longtime Clanton resident Helen Blackmon claims no one would have come to her 90th birthday party if she had scheduled it on Sept. 21, her actual birthday.

“That’s football season,” Blackmon said, laughing. “No one would come that day.”

So, Blackmon invited her family and friends to join her at Clanton First United Methodist Church on Sept. 22 instead.

Despite how humble she is about her party’s importance, Blackmon undoubtedly would have had the same crowd any day she planned her party.

Blackmon is a beloved member of her community, where she has lived, worked and given her time to charitable organizations for about 65 years.

She and her late husband, Ed, moved to Clanton in October 1948, three years after they married in Birmingham.

Ed served in the United States Navy during World War II.

As the Blackmons were entering the peaks of their lives, America was exiting the war, and the world seemed to be embracing a new era.

“When Ed and I moved to Clanton, we had the first television we knew about in Chilton County,” Helen Blackmon said. “It was black and white.”

Blackmon said they moved to Chilton County so Ed could farm with his parents and work at his father’s newspaper, The Southern Outlook, published out of Clanton at the time.

Blackmon got a job with First National Bank in Clanton making cotton loans during the cotton-buying season.

She became a register in chancery, or court reporter, and sat in on cases and took shorthand at the old Chilton County Courthouse.

She was recommended for and recipient of a Superior Service Award from the United States Department of Agriculture for her work with the Farmers Home Administration, “for demonstrating unusual skill in carrying out all county office clerical duties, excelling in training assistant county office clerks, and for exceptional service to farm families in Chilton County, Ala.,” the certificate said.

“That was quite an adventure,” Blackmon said.

Eventually, she said Ed went back to school and earned his master’s degree from the University of Montevallo to teach biology, physics and history at Thorsby School.

He applied for and attained the principal position at Thorsby in the 1970s.

Every year since 1987, Blackmon said she has chosen a Thorsby student to receive the T.E. Blackmon Scholarship, an academic scholarship in honor of her late husband.

Blackmon still lives in the house she and Ed built in 1956.

She serves on the YMCA of Chilton County board of directors and as a Chilton County Chamber of Commerce ambassador; volunteers at Hope Realty on Wednesday mornings; attends Sunday School and sings in the choir at Clanton First United Methodist Church; and she has volunteered with the American Red Cross in the past.

Blackmon was the first person to be named a Chilton County Chamber of Commerce ambassador, which she called an “honor.”

She is scarcely absent from any Chamber event, and her dedication was recognized in 2012, when she was named Ambassador of the Year at the Chamber’s annual banquet.

She said she still attends an annual cousins reunion at a relative’s home in Birmingham each year.

For much of her life, Clanton Country Club was Blackmon’s second home as she frequently played golf with her husband and their friends.

A decorative pillow bearing the saying, “Golfers never diet, they just exist on greens,” rests on the sofa in her den.

“I’ve lived a long time,” Blackmon said. “My life has been full.”