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Remembering Josephine Ames Childers

“She walked in beauty like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Met in her aspect and her eyes:”

From the Old Depot each afternoon I usually drive by way of Selma Avenue, enjoying the well-kept homes in several of its blocks and reflecting on my long-ago school days when I walked that way to Dallas Academy. And more often than not I encountered Josephine Ames Childers taking her daily walk.

She never failed to smile and wave, sometimes pausing to chat a moment, conversing with the warmth that was so much her natural being. Even now I find myself glancing about for her presence, then, remembering that she is gone, I am saddened. And it is in these moments that I recall most vividly my friend Josephine.

For those of you who did not have the privilege of knowing her and for we who miss her presence, let me say: She was first and foremost a lady, in her manner, her bearing, her caring and concern for others and for this town she made her own.

Born in Montgomery in 1937 she was the oldest of the three daughters of Josephine Reid Brooks Smith and Allen Nichols Smith. After finishing her education at Sidney Lanier, then attending Randolph Macon and graduating from the University of Georgia, she taught in the Montgomery City Schools until her marriage to Mortimer Parker Ames Jr. and subsequent move to Selma, where she was welcomed by her younger sister Bebe Reeves (wife of Selma Attorney Archie Reeves).

Josephine quickly became a part of her new community, with her volunteer service including Christian Outreach Alliance (The Food Pantry), the role of tutor in Selma City Schools, tourism guide for the Chamber of Commerce and a promoter of the Alabama Shakespeare Theater for Selma.

She was a member of First Presbyterian Church where she served as an Elder and a co-chair with Edna Eiland for the Discipleship Division and twice serving on the Pastor Nominating Committee. She also taught an adult Sunday school class and a youth group. For her service and dedication to the church she was honored by Presbyterian Women with the Life Membership Award.

In the community her involvement included the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, the Ossian Club and Chloris Garden Club, a major interest due to her love of gardening.

Those of us who knew her best marveled at these gifts of time and service even as she lived through the ups and downs of everyday personal life, enjoyed — and at times endured — by each of us. Josephine lost two sons to death, one an infant; and later the death of her husband, Mort. She also knew the joy of grandchildren, a son and a daughter born to her daughter Jodie who lives in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Her son Mort is in Chicago.

Through her selfless interest in the community and her warmth and concern for people, Josephine was rich in friends. After the death of Mort Ames she was welcomed into our singles group, known as I.M.P., circa 1978, where her delightful sense of humor and joy in living were pure delight.

Many of us have not yet forgiven Miller Childers, whom she married in 2004, and was no longer a Single. My remark is rather unkind. In their little more than four years together these two nice people enjoyed great happiness together. And it is our sincere desire that on this Easter Day when the world rejoices at the promise and fulfillment of life renewed, that our friend Josephine Ames Childers, from her place of perfect peace, smile in the knowledge that she made our world a better place. Happy Easter!