- Cullman, Alabama

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November 30, 2012

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


CULLMAN — After Big Jim

Big Jim Folsom died in 1987. Not wanting to be a burden on her children, Jamelle Folsom decided to go to work.

“Since I’ve come back to Cullman, I wanted the children to know that I could work and didn’t want them to think I had to depend on them when Jim died,” she said.

Agriculture and Industry Commissioner A.W. Todd hired Folsom as an executive to the Commission of Agriculture and Industry. For 11 years, she traveled the state for the office. She and her associates attended state fairs or inspected grocery stores. “I enjoyed that job,” she said. “I even rode an elephant in Mobile at one of the fairs.”

She would travel to farmers’ markets to make sure the vendors had the proper permits. In grocery stores, she and her assistant would check to make sure no expired products were sold. “There’s just a lot of things I never dreamed you had to do in the agriculture department,” she said.

Folsom is also active in the local chapter of the Alabama Retired State Employees Association, with local charities and at her church, First Baptist of Cullman. She still attends events as a former first lady. Several years ago she got to attend the dedication of a local nursing home named in honor of her husband and son. The Folsom Center is the second piece of property named after a Folsom. She said she can still remember the day when Cullman County’s airport was named after her husband. “He was so proud,” she said.

“I’ve enjoyed lately being in the Elk’s Club,” she said. “I have two or three things every day that I do. But my daddy always said, ‘Baby, if you help somebody every day, you’ll always be happy.” I wake up every morning thinking what can I do to help somebody. I should have been a social worker, I think. Jack said, ‘Well at least, Mama, you would have been paid for that.”

* Vinemont native Gail Crutchfield is Community News Editor for the Mountain Press in Sevierville, Tenn. She can be reached at


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