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First Baptist Trussville honors longtime member

For The Tribune

TRUSSVILLE — It may have been the only time in her 90 years that Jeanne Crow has received a standing ovation. But for those in the congregation at First Baptist Church of Trussville, a recent morning service was an appropriate occasion for such a tribute.

Aug. 24 was “Jeanne Crow Day” at the church, where for nearly 50 years the diminutive retired nurse has served as a tireless ambassador for her Christian faith. Crow has long worked with preschoolers and faithfully visited the sick and shut-ins. But many inside and outside the church know her best for the enormous number of get-well, condolence, birthday and other cards she’s sent to friends (and occasionally strangers) over the years.

So on her day, Crow received a mailbag of cards and handwritten notes from men, women and children whose lives she has touched.

“We thought about a reception, but we felt a shower of cards best represented Jeanne’s spirit of service,” said Rev. Bobby Erwin, First Baptist Church of Trussville minister to senior adults.

First Baptist Church of Trussville honored one of its own at “Jeanne Crow Day” Sunday, Aug. 24. Recognized for her lifetime of service and her unselfish spirit, Crow is shown with Pastor Buddy Champion. Minister to seniors Bobby Erwin is in the background.
photo by Jack DeBlanc

The recognition was a reluctant farewell to Crow, who soon will be leaving Trussville to live with her niece in Prattville.

Crow’s “card habit” is long-standing and part of her diverse ministry.  She and Cecil married in 1945, soon after he returned home from the Air Force and she had completed nurse’s training at South Highland Infirmary. They settled in the Birmingham area, where he worked for Ralston Purina and she for the county health department and Visiting Nurses’ Association. After they became members at First Baptist Church of Trussville in 1965, they began visiting shut-ins. There they would read the Bible, have prayer time, and Jeanne would often check blood pressures and temperatures. Crow continued visiting after Cecil’s death.

“Whenever anyone had surgery in the neighborhood, they could depend on Jeanne coming over to check on them,” said June Spruiell, a former neighbor. “It was wonderful knowing that she was there to help when needed.”

As the church expanded, so did Crow’s ministries. One involved teaching Sunday school in the preschool department.

“In telling Bible stories, she tried to fit the lesson she had prepared into the kids’ attention span,” said Laura Joiner, who taught 3-year-olds with Crow. “She was kind, soft-spoken and always there.”

Jennifer Bain, who served as preschool director part of that time, joined Crow on a mission trip to Ecuador in the late 1990s to participate in a Bible school for missionary kids.

“Our assignment? Three-year-olds,” Bain said. “And her nursing skills came in handy, too.”

With the late Louise Morrison, Crow also established a parish nursing ministry, where members could have weight, blood pressure and other vital signs checked. Both retired nurses paid for keeping their licenses current so this ministry could continue.

By the 1990s, Crow’s card habit was outgrowing her budget. So, at the age of 71, she found a job archiving medical records for Alabama Orthopedics, Spine & Sports Medicine Associates.

“She still had a lot to give,” said Orlean Bruce, administrative assistant for the clinic. “Her work is impeccable; she’s conscientious; she takes pride in what she does. And her card ministry has meant so much to so many people.

“But then,” she added, “Jeanne’s life is her ministry.”

Longtime friend Gladys Burdette echoed the sentiment.

“Jeanne has served as the arms and legs of Jesus,” she said.

Although she’s changing homes, Crow’s card ministry will go with her.

“She’s already asked about the location of card shops in Prattville,” said niece Celeste Brewer.

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