Seeing a century, oldest alum passes away
WILMORE, KY— She lived through 19 U.S. Presidents from William McKinley, who died in 1901 a few months after she was born, to George W. Bush. She witnessed both World Wars, mass production of the automobile, women earning the right to vote, the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, the invention of television, man walking on the moon, the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, the creation of computers, the internet, 9/11 and so much more.
While she was an Asbur
y College student, Dr. Lewis Akers was president, Hughes Memorial Auditorium was dedicated and the College operated a mattress factory on campus. Edith “Wave” Jamerson, who turned 106 in January, was Asbury College’s oldest living alumnus. She passed away on April 11, 2007.
Known as “Wave,” Miss Jamerson began her teaching career in 1921 in a one-room school. She was the first woman boys’ basketball coach in Illinois when she was the principal at Enfield High School. She would later teach at Popular Ridge and in Grayville, Ill., where she was principal for Grayville High School.
Jamerson would return to the classroom as a student, attending Southern Illinois University, Asbury College and the University of Illinois. She attended Asbury College in the late 1920s as a non-traditional student, graduating with an English degree in 1932 when she was 31.
She was best known in Carmi, Ill., where she was the long-serving librarian at Carmi High School. One of her former students, Dr. Glenn Poshard, president of Southern Illinois University, said Jamerson ran a tight ship in her library. As quoted in a newsletter for the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois, “When you were in her library, you were either studying, reading the newspapers or a book,” Poshard said, who attended Carmi High School 1958-1962. “You were not socializing or disturbing the other students. Any help you needed, she was available and generous with her time. She expected high standards from students, demanded much, and was respected by all of us.”
Jamerson retired from the library position at Carmi High School in 1978 when she was 77. In all, Jamerson was an educator for 57 years.
She stayed very active in her later years. Jamerson drove a car until she was 99 years old and had her picture taken on the back of a motorcycle on her 106th birthday. She attended the Little Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, Ky., took dinner cruises on riverboats and attended a class reunion of her students in the 1942 Grayville High School graduating class.
“I had a pretty long career as a teacher. I loved teaching and I was glad I could do it. It was always a pleasure being with the children,” Jamerson said in a 2006 newsletter published by the Teachers’ Retirement System of the State of Illinois.