When Jacksonville women needed to know the latest fashion trends, they went to Lou Kennamer.
For 33 years, from the 1960s through the early 1990s, Lou’s Dress Shop was a staple of the business scene on the city’s Public Square.
“I went there many times to shop her for directions for Martin’s because I felt so strongly about her tastes,” said Bill Wakefield, president and CEO of the Anniston-based Wakefield’s Inc., which runs the Martin’s Family Clothing retail chain. “She was always able to find the right items, the right color and the right look ... her taste was second to none.”
Louqueta “Lou” Kennamer of Jacksonville died on Sunday at her home in Jacksonville. She was 79.
Memorial services for Kennamer will be held today starting at 2 p.m. at K.L. Brown Memorial Chapel in Golden Springs. The family will receive friends at 1 p.m. at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Lou Kennamer Memorial Fund at the JSU Foundation at 700 Pelham Road N., Jacksonville, AL 36265.
Kennamer was a Heflin native and a graduate of Jacksonville State University, where she met her husband, Bob Kennamer, now a former member of the school’s board of trustees.
Besides running her shop, Kennamer served on the first Calhoun County Economic Development Commission, the JSU International House Board and the Jacksonville Merchants Association.
Kennamer and her husband were long-time supporters of JSU. Following a generous gift to the university, the Bob and Lou Kennamer Hall was named in 2005 in their honor. The building is home to the department of kinesiology. The couple also had a scholarship fund and faculty award in their name to support academics.
More recently, the Kennamers donated $1 million to help kick off construction of the new JSU baseball stadium, set to be dedicated next month.
“The Kennamers, along with another donor, each committed $1 million and got the entire project off the ground,” said Greg Seitz, JSU athletic director. “We would not have been able to complete the project without them.”
Seitz said he’d known Lou Kennamer since he moved to Jacksonville in 1993.
“She and her husband were just unbelievable supporters of the university and were at every athletic event we had,” Seitz said. “When you’d see her, Ms. Lou always had a smile ... she was always gracious and kind.”
Bill Meehan, retired president of JSU, said Kennamer was a woman who garnered respect.
“She was a very quiet person but when she spoke, you listened,” Meehan said.
Meehan said the generosity of Kennamer and her husband could not be overstated.
“They probably helped more than 50 students get a degree by scholarships,” Meehan said. “And she made sure people who needed clothes got them and she would prepare meals for those in need.”
Jamie Ethredge and his wife Donna Ethredge of Jacksonville said they knew the Kennamers for decades.
“Lou was one of my first friends in Jacksonville when we moved to the city,” Donna Ethredge said. “She was a just a truly kind and caring woman.”
Jamie Ethredge said he was slightly surprised when the Kennamers moved away to Anniston a few years ago, but wasn’t surprised when they moved back to Jacksonville more recently.
“They were just such tremendous supporters of Jacksonville State,” he said. “She will be remembered.”
Kennamer is survived by her husband, Bob Kennamer, a sister, Sue Walker, brothers Russell Blanton Jr. and Jessie Blanton and several nieces and nephews.