GRADY — Mrs. Jimmie Lee Martin Edwards began her life journey February 7, 1936, in Grady, Ark. An extraordinary journey, that touched the lives of many. She confessed her life to Christ at an early age. She attended Mt. Nebo, before later joining New Hope A.M.E. Church where she remained a faithful member until her death on February 12, 2013. She was very active in every aspect of her church and loved her church family. Jimmie attended schools at Yorktown (Lincoln County), the Pine Bluff and Dollarway districts and J.C. Corbin High School. She graduated from Merrill High School in 1954. She continued her education by receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree from AM&N College and a Master’s Degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. She married Jasper Edwards on October 6, 1955, and God blessed this union with one daughter and three sons.
Upon graduation from AM&N, Jimmie started working there as the supervisor of the laboratory school in the Home Economics Department and taught classes in child development. After receiving her master’s degree, she returned to UAPB and was in charge of the nursery school and again, taught child development classes. She joined the 1890 Cooperative Extension Program in 1976 and immediately launched a home improvement program in five rural counties in southeast Arkansas. By 1977 her job was expanded to include 14 counties. With high demand for her assistance, the program was expanded statewide in 1983. She also organized Master Upholsters in different counties and they extended her teachings by reaching a large number of clients each year.
Before joining the Extension, Jimmie served as an Extension volunteer for more than 15 years. She continued her volunteerism by sponsoring the Pastoria 4-H club and the AgriKids. Over the years each club member would raise sweet potatoes and various other vegetables to sell. They learned valuable lessons in production, marketing, and money management. Her philosophy was “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Jimmie retired in 1996, but for a while continued to conduct workshops across the state in home improvement. Any one that had the pleasure of knowing Jimmie, knew that the New Hope Scholarship was her pride and joy. She loved helping young people achieve their educational goals and this was an avenue for that. Since the inception of the Scholarship program, more than a half million dollars (with an endowment of over $140,000) has been raised assisting over 400 needy students attending the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. What is so significant is that there are only 10 active members in the entire church. The scholarship has assisted students from the United States, Haiti, Honduras, Bulgaria, Thailand, and Jamaica. She even established a partnership with B.R.A.V.E., a local black firefighters association, and they provide three $500 scholarships yearly. Additionally, Jimmie also supported the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s Rural Life Conference and has been a long standing chair of the Dedication Committee. She is one of two persons in which the conference was dedicated in 1999.
Jimmie has been recognized on numerous occasions by her peers locally and from across the country. Some of those awards include the 1862 Cooperative Extension Outstanding Specialist Award for outstanding service in developing and implementing high impact extension programs that benefit rural families; Outstanding Volunteer 4-H Leader Award; Pine Bluff Commercial Unsung Hero Award; and the 1890 Cooperative Extension Distinguished Service Award. In 1994, she was one of 100 outstanding graduates of historically black colleges and universities who received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the National Association of Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. Jimmie was nominated by the University for making significant contributions to the American Society. In 1998, she became the first women to receive the George Washington Carver Public Service Hall of Fame Award presented by Tuskegee University and the CARET Delegation. Jimmie was preceded in death by her father, James Martin; her mother, Louise Trouser; and her only daughter Jacquelyn Edwards Driver. Her legacy of love and memories will be cherished by Jasper Edwards; three sons, Jeffrey Edwards (LaTunda) and Jerial Edwards of Sherrill, Ark. and Jimmy (Patricia) Edwards of Fayetteville, Ark.; one son-in-law- Tony Driver of Waco, Texas; and 7 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. She also leaves love and cherished memories with Artemeze Edwards, whom she called her sister; and Beverly Edwards, whom she called her daughter; and a host of nieces and nephews. Although we will miss her greatly, we will forever celebrate her life and be enriched by the seeds that she has sown into our lives. Funeral service will be 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, February 19, 2013, at New St. Hurricane MBC by Rev. Clark Thomas. Burial will be in New Hope Cemetery in Pastoria by Brown Funeral Home of Pine Bluff.
Visitation will be from 3:00-5:30 p.m. Monday with a Family Hour/Visitation from 5:30-7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make contributions to the New Hope Scholarship Endowment Fund. Contributions can be mailed to 1711 South Pack Road, Sherrill, AR 72152 or made during Monday night’s visitation and after funeral services.
Online Register: www.brownfuneralhomeandmortuary.com.