Known as the Crown Jewel to her family, friends and anyone that knows her, Ms. Willie “Jewel” Vickers was born in Greensboro, the 5th of 14 siblings. At a very young age, she learned to cook, babysit, and care for others at home. She is a 1964 graduate of Carter Paramore High School in Quincy. Her military marriage led her to travel to Paris and Germany where her children were born. She said, “They say every time you go to Germany you either bring back a baby or a cuckoo clock. I brought a baby the first time. The second time, I brought the cuckoo clock!”
At 37, with her five children in tow, Ms. Vickers returned to Tallahassee, completed her AA degree at TCC and transferred to FAMU. She then started her 28-year career as a United States Postal Service rural mail carrier. She proudly stated her last route was Woodville Rural Route 44. She cared for and checked on people on her route. “I loved the people in Woodville,” she says. “I met so many new friends and I made sure they were taken care of and even cooked meals for some of them.”
Since retiring 6 years ago at the age of 71, she can be found volunteering five days a week at Jake Gaither or Smith Williams Community Centers. She and friends cook and feed people in need. Every day they inspire others to engage, play games, join fitness classes and make new friends. Ms. Jewel won five gold medals in the Capital City Senior Games – bowling, shot put, discus, bag toss and fun run/walk.
A devoted and proud member at Greater Mt Pleasant Church for 50 years, she sings in the choir, volunteers as an usher and ministers to others by sharing her love of cooking. Famous for her loving kindness, she is willing to plan and prepare for special functions on the celebration team but especially loves comforting grieving families with her delicious meals for memorial services. Ms. Jewel shared her healing menu: collard greens with country smoked meat and ham hocks; old fashioned cornbread dressing with secret seasoning; sweet potato bread; turkey and ham; string beans; rice and field beans; and red velvet cake for dessert.
A loving mother and caregiver, Jewel speaks proudly of her own five children, one adopted child, five grandchildren and one great grandchild on the way. For the last 10 years, she has been a compassionate caregiver for a senior in need.
Ms. Jewel’s advice to other seniors – “Be with positive people and stay active. Don’t sit there and watch television all day; cook something for someone. Life is all about helping someone else.”
By Betty Morales