Remember last November? I told you about the husband and wife team who served in the Army during World War II and their pictures are displayed on the “St. Clair Hall of Heroes” display inside the museum? I'm going to tell you about Charles Russell Forman, the fourth child of Joseph Jackson Forman and Bessie Moore Forman.
Charles’ mother, Bessie, taught school for a while in Branchville and later was post mistress at the Odenville Post Office. Charles was drafted in the army and he was working at a hospital in Texas as a medic assistant when he met a beautiful young nurse (who outranked him, by the way) and they fell in love and were married.
Rita Marie Tomlinson was from Illinois. They made their home in Odenville and had four children: Judy Marie, Jack Russell, Charlotte Anne and Jeffrey Charles.
After the army, Charles and his brother, William, had a grocery store on the corner where that fenced-in car lot is now as you turn to go behind the park and to the library. Later, William bought the Fortson Grocery across the street. Charles became the postal mail carrier and worked that job for nearly 40 years. When Charles retired from his postal job, he was given a big surprise party at the Odenville Civic Center. People from all walks of life came to wish him well and to express their love and appreciation to him. It meant so much to him. He received hugs, love, gifts and cakes, but one gift kind of stood out to him. It was a hand sewn quilt by the ladies on his mail route from the Low Gap/Margaret community. Each block was made by a friend and they embroidered their names on their square. It was priceless to him and now it’s on his daughter Charlotte’s bed.
Because no ambulance service was nearby, Charles and others took some classes at UAB for first aid and advanced life support. They formed the North St. Clair Rescue Squad. Charles was captain of the squad and dedicated himself 100 percent to that organization. Many lives were spared by their quick response to assistance victims until an ambulance could get to the scene (staunch bleeding, perform CPR, immobilize neck/head injuries, etc.).
Charles was elected St. Clair County coroner, and served in that capacity for 10 years, until his death at age 69. He died of pancreatic cancer. He was a great comfort to many people during his 10 years as coroner. He had a gift for bringing calm in the middle of emotional turmoil. He had a compassion for people and had the ability to do what needed to be done.
Charles also served as a trustee at St. Clair County High School for several years. His daughter Charlotte remembers when repeated break-ins and vandalism were happening at the school. Her dad, along with Gene Simpson, Bud Cobb and some other men, would take guns and hide in the school at night until those culprits were caught.
When Charlotte was in the second grade, her dad had an accident, and had to have his right leg amputated above the knee. He never considered himself handicapped and he never let it keep him from serving his community. Charlotte said she knows her daddy was good friends of Dennis Russell and his brother, Don, and he would be proud of the job Dennis Russell is doing as county coroner now. The Charles Forman Investigation Center, established in 2000, is in Pell City and has been dedicated to the memory of Charles Forman.
Charles Forman (1922-1991) and Rita Forman (1923-2001) taught by example to do what is right in life, to love and serve others. They are buried in the Branchville Cemetery.
(Special note: Matt Coupland, from my column last week, is their grandson.)
Count your many blessings: Happy one-year newspaper anniversary to me! You can send your news/events/shout-outs to Odenville1914@gmail.com.