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Hall of Fame to induct Ima Joan Crawford

Seven outstanding citizens will be inducted in the Atmore Area Hall of Fame April 28: Athletics – Willie Parker and Earl Miller; Government – Stephanie Bryan and Weldon Vickrey; Business – Dale Ash and Bill Farr; Medicine – Ima Joan Helton-Crawford

The induction ceremony and dinner will be held Saturday, April 28, 6 p.m., at The Club, Highway 21, Atmore. Tickets, $25 each, are available at Atmore News and United Bank. Note: Everyone must have a ticket to attend the ceremony and dinner. All former inductees are invited to attend at no cost, courtesy of the Hall of Fame Committee.

This week, Atmore News features inductee Ima Joan Helton Crawford. Information provided by the Hall of Fame Committee (taken from Seasons, the magazine of Samford University, date unknown), and from Dignity Memorial.

Ima Joan Helton Crawford


Throughout her long career, Ima Joan Helton Crawford represented the gold standard of a nurse.

“Nursing was her life,” said Nelda Helton Jernigan of her late sister, who studied under legendary nurse educator Ida V. Moffett at Birmingham Baptist Hospital [BBH] and graduated in 1956. BBH was the forerunner of Samford’s Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing.

Crawford earned a master’s degree in nursing at the University of Alabama before working as a nurse in her hometown of Atmore, Ala. She returned to Birmingham to teach at BBH and “under Ida V. Moffett’s guidance,” according to Jernigan, was instrumental in setting up the nursing education program at Jefferson State Community College.

After her marriage in the early 1970s, Crawford lived in Alaska and Illinois, where she continued her profession as a nurse and studied toward a doctorate degree while in Springfield, Ill. When she returned to Alabama as a widow in the 1980s, she supervised nursing homes in the Montgomery area until her retirement.

“She was a most giving person who continued her nursing skills and helped people throughout her life,” Jernigan said, adding that in retirement, Crawford tirelessly volunteered through her church and community.

“She is well remembered.”

Thanks to Jernigan’s desire that her sister’s legacy continue, and through the generosity of the late Mrs. Crawford’s estate, future generations of Moffett nurses will benefit from enhanced scholarship opportunities.

After Crawford’s death in 2012, Jernigan learned of her sister’s wishes to assist Samford nursing students. Through proceeds from an IRA that Crawford had designated to Samford and other monies from her will, a significant financial addition was directed to an existing family scholarship fund at Samford.

The fund surpassed a goal set by Jernigan who wanted to see the fund reach a certain point in time for the Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing 90th Anniversary in October 2012. The nursing program at Crawford’s BBH alma mater became a part of Samford in 1973.

The fund had its beginnings in the 1980s, when the two sisters sought a way to honor their late father, F.M. Helton, who had been a farmer in Atmore.

“He was not educated, but he loved education and wanted us educated,” Jernigan said of her father’s desires for his children. ‘’He believed in education …

“My sister’s only legacy is her nursing. Through the scholarships, each time a student receives one, she will be remembered.”

The following obituary information was taken from the Dignity Memorial website:

Ima Joan Crawford, age 76, a resident of Montgomery, passed away on Sunday, February 5, 2012. Formerly of Springfield, IL, Mrs. Crawford was predeceased by her husband, Charles “Chuck” Crawford and her parents, Fonnie Martin and Junie Bell Helton of Atmore.

She was a sister to Colbern Wesley “Pete” (Barbara) Helton of Atmore, Dr. Kendrel Martin (Nancy) Helton of Huntsville and formerly of Mobile, Clyde Gilmon (Gladys) Helton of Atmore, Robert E. “Bobby” Helton of Atmore and formerly of Mobile, Leople Helton (the late James Earl) Peacock of Montgomery, Nelda Helton (Rev. Chester) Jernigan of Montgomery.

As a registered nurse, Mrs. Crawford attended the Ida Moffett School of Nursing in Birmingham and worked at Greenlawn Hospital in Atmore, secured the funds and helped start the Jefferson State Community College School of Nursing, worked in Springfield, Ill. and returned to Montgomery and supervised nursing homes in the Montgomery area until her retirement. Since her retirement, Mrs. Crawford had done extensive volunteering with both her church and her community.