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December 4, 2012

‘Perfect southern lady’ Jamelle Folsom laid to rest

CULLMAN — Standing in front of a packed church,  Meghan Folsom only needed one sentence to describe her grandmother, as friends and relatives gathered to pay their last respects to former Alabama First Lady Jamelle Moore Folsom before being laid to rest Monday.

It's one most everyone would agree with.

"She was the most perfect southern lady ever," Meghan said.

Jamelle — widow of iconic two-term Alabama governor James E. "Big Jim" Folsom, and mother to former governor Jim Folsom Jr. — passed away at the age of 85 Friday in Cullman after a brief cancer-related illness.

"Everyone remembers her generosity and her strength," Meghan Folsom said. "She would give you the shirt off her back. In fact, I realized I never could compliment her on anything she was wearing or she would try and send me home with it — and living in a tiny apartment, I just couldn't keep it."

Meghan, who is the daughter of Jim Jr., recalled the love story between her two grandparents, calling it, "the kind that Hollywood movies are made of.”

The couple eloped in 1948 after a two-year courtship. Jamelle carried out the role of First Lady for the remainder of "Big Jim'"s first term, then moved back to Cullman where he had already taken up residence in the name of claiming North Alabama as a political foothold. State law at the time forbade consecutive runs at the governor's office, but the couple was back in Montgomery after "Big Jim" won his second and final term in 1955.

"Miss Jamelle Moore fell in love for the first and only time in her life," Meghan said. "Their story is one of true love, and especially the reason we are all here today. We're here to celebrate a measurable and boundless love. Jamelle Moore met the man of her dreams and followed her heart, which happened to lead her to the governor's mansion."

Throughout "Big Jim's" second-term campaign, Meghan said her grandfather would travel around the state with The Strawberry Pickers, his famed political backing band, and often sing "You Are My Sunshine" with Jamelle at the end of the campaign rallys to enliven everyone and bring about the spirit of togetherness.

Monday, it was only fitting Meghan asked everyone to join in as the service came to a close.

"In that same spirit, I'd like you all to please stand, and let’s pledge to love one another as Jamelle loved us and the state of Alabama. We won't cry for her because her life is full, and colorful, and boundless."

Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at agraves@cullmantimes.com

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