Lottie Jacks has led an accomplished life. She has raised four children, published a book, led a career as a medical technician, served as president of the Samford Legacy League, won the Lolla Wurtele Wright Award, and always found ways to help others whether it was through her day to day work or on mission trips to Los Mochis, Mexico. At 85, she is not slowing down.
This weekend she will walk across the stage of the Wright Center and finish something she started in 1948. This is her Samford Story:
LOTTIE JACKS: I am one of ten children. I was born in the western section of [Birmingham]. It was unincorporated at that time. It is kind of what is Green Acres now or Powderly. . . . I . . . graduated and I got a full scholarship to Samford [then Howard College] through my church.
Mrs. Jacks began college in 1948 on the old campus in East Lake. During her freshman year she lived with three other girls in a small dorm room outfitted with two sets of bunk beds. Unfortunately she did not get to live on campus after her first year.
JACKS: I had to go back home and live, because the church that was giving my scholarship said they could not afford for me to live in the dormitory. So then I had to find transportation all the way across town from east to west, which made it harder on me. And I think I was kind of overwhelmed with trying – doing [it] all. It took an hour and a half to get across town on a streetcar, but then I finally found there were two young men that lived over there, and I finally got a ride with them . . . .
Living off campus and contending with a long commute, Mrs. Jacks was not able to experience the close knit community so characteristic of Howard College.
JACKS: I just did not blend in like I should have. I made good friends, [but] it was completely different.
A year shy of graduation, Lottie married her college sweetheart and left school. She always regretted not finishing her degree.
JACKS: I had four children and I just did not go back to school. Dr. Simon who was the head of the clinic [I worked with] offered to pay my way, but I just did not want to go to school at night and leave my children, because I had been gone all day. . . . But I have always regretted that I did not. . . so I just had this desire to [finish], just a burning desire . . . to do this.
Lottie feared that she might not fit in among the younger students. Despite her worries, she found the Samford community to be welcoming and supportive in her endeavor to finally graduate.
JACKS: Everything good that has happened to me has been through Samford. . . . Dr. Westmoreland . . . was praising me about doing this. I said, ‘Do not praise me yet. Wait until I finish!’ And he said, ‘You better finish!’ But the best part was when I started [back]. I thought, ‘Oh what are these young students going to think of me?’ I was worried about them thinking, ‘What is she doing here?’ The students have been the most wonderful part. They have been kind. They have been accepting. They help me.
Mrs. Jacks admits that coming back to school has been very challenging. While there have been many new experiences, she is amused by how the times have changed.
JACKS: I laugh now when I am here on campus. I am just amused at the way the girls dress, because when I went [to college] I had one suitcase full of clothes and I wanted so badly to have pretty clothes, you know. (Laughter) Now, they can go to Walmart and buy theirs for a dollar . . . but we wore sweaters and skirts [only]. We did not wear pants at all.
Mrs. Jacks will complete her undergraduate career this Saturday, May 14 at the Howard College of Arts and Sciences graduation ceremony. She says she owes it all to the work of the Lord and the support of the Christian community here at Samford.
-by Marley Davis
Oral history interview with Lottie Jacks conducted by Marley Davis, fall 2015.