Martha Jimmar Christmas

I was born in St. Louis, Mo., to a mother, Juanita Jimmar, who loved me dearly.
My father, Finnis Breedlove, resided in Dickson, Tenn.
A blessing occurred in my life at the age of 2. I went to visit my grandmother, Katie Jimmar, in Leighton, Ala., and had a wonderful life. What a blessing!
At the age of 12, I was baptized in the southern African-American tradition. In a creek with clear water running over rocks, birds singing flying overheard and beautiful shade trees as saints stood on the bank praising God.
There were two churches in the little town. I became a member of Galilee Baptist Church, which had church on the second and fourth Sunday of the month. I attended Sunday school, sang in the choir and attended BTU. On the first and third, I attended the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, sang in the choir and attended Sunday school. Denomination was never an issue, the purpose was to serve God.
I attended Leighton Training School and was salutatorian of my senior class. I enjoyed high school participation in the choir, participating in plays and sometimes skipping class to sit behind the school with friends watching trains passing back as our segregated school was next to the railroad tracks.
My high school teachers stressed excellence and we were empowered to do our best to strive for excellence and to have good self-esteem. My special friends for life were Barbara J. Hankins, Rachael, Helen, Eloise, Brown Mary Elizabeth, Ruthie Jackson Taylor and Delphia King.
My undergraduate education was at my beloved Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, Ala. I was nurtured, not a number, but checked if I missed a class. I sang in the choir, secretary of the Sunday school, a majorette, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and worked in the office as secretary to the chair of the Division of Education. I received my graduate degree from Webster University and The University of Missouri St. Louis. I loved working for the St. Louis Board of Education for 39 years. My students were all special to me and we had a very special relationship.
I was blessed to be able to recruit more than 3,000 students from St. Louis to attend Alabama A&M University. Two have been elected president of the student body and two have been named Miss Alabama A&M University.
In 1962, I met and married John K. Christmas, of Dothan, Ala. And we had two wonderful, handsome and dynamic sons, Jerryl Thomas (Jackie) and John Christopher. They blessed me with six beautiful granddaughters, Jendaya, Jala, Aliyah, Maiya, Jelani and Jakada.
My family moved to St. Louis in 1963. My husband was an active participant in the Civil Rights movement, serving as one of the first three black policemen hired and fired after refusing to arrest only black citizens.
Mrs. Christmas was a 1957 graduate of Alabama A&M University and her noteworthy commitment to the university was chronicled in a Huntsville Times article entitled, "Alabama A&M Graduate Gives Back to Alma Mater by Recruiting More Than 3,000 Students," May 15, 2007.
Visitation will be 3-4 p.m. Friday, April 22, at Galilee Baptist Church in Leighton.
Graveside services will be at 4 p.m. Friday, April 22, at Galilee Baptist Church Cemetery, Highway 20, Leighton, Ala.
Funeral services for Martha Jimmar Christmas, of St. Louis, Mo., were held Saturday, April 16, 2011, at Central Baptist Church, 2842 Washington Ave., St. Louis, Mo.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts for Martha Christmas may be made payable to the Alabama A&M Foundation for the Nell Lane Bradford and Henry Bradford Jr. Scholarship. These may be sent to: Alabama A&M Foundation, Alabama A&M University, PO Box 1057, Normal, AL 35762.

Published in Florence Times Daily on Apr. 20, 2011