- Cullman, Alabama

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November 30, 2012

Former first lady Jamelle Folsom remembered (Updated with 2004 Times interview)


CULLMAN — Family tradition

She was also proud when her oldest son and Jim Folsom’s namesake, Jim Folsom Jr., entered politics and became lieutenant governor and eventually, governor.

“I think Jim really accomplished more in his terms as lieutenant governor and governor than some governors that stayed in 20 years,” she said.

If she could change anything, it might be the way her son got to be governor. He took over the governorship from Gov. Guy Hunt, who was removed for ethics violations.

“I didn’t like that a bit, because I wanted my son to be elected governor, just like his pa,” she said.

Because he was named governor in the midst of such a trying time, Folsom said she wasn’t able to enjoy it as she would have an electoral victory.

“He called me and said George McMinn and Freddie Day — they were state bodyguards for Jim, state troopers — and he said, ‘Mama, George is going to send a trooper up to pick up you and Marsha,’ and I said, ‘What for?’” Folsom said. “He said, ‘Well the court had told Gov. Hunt that he won’t come back in office and that automatically makes me governor.’

“He said, ‘Now, Mama, I want you to know, I know you’re proud, but come down here like you’re going to church, because you can’t come down here like you’re going to celebrate because a lot of people are real upset over it and a lot of people are losing their jobs.’

“So boy, when I went to that capital and two patrolmen, one behind me and one if front and Marsha in front of them, we joined Jim. And we went into the capital for him to be sworn in and I stood there and I thought, ‘I am so proud my buttons are about to bust off.’ But I couldn’t afford to feel emotion other than just watch the ceremony.”

Folsom, 76, who believes she’s the only first lady of Alabama to have both married and produced a governor, said she wouldn’t mind seeing her son run for office again.

“Well, before I die, I would love to see him put his name on the ballot, whatever he wants to run for. And I’ve told him that,” she said.

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