Stallworth loves all her 'children'
Published 5:26 pm Wednesday, May 28, 2003
By BY LYDIA GRIMES – Feature Writer
Pearl Stallworth is a person anyone would be proud to know. She can be found each morning at the Escambia Brewton Area Career Technical Center while school is in session.
Stallworth is the custodian at the center but that is not all she does there. She goes to work at 6 a.m. to clean and get the place ready to open. She is there when the school principal, Jane Henderson, arrives each morning and she spends time with the teachers and checks to see if they need her for anything.
Perhaps her favorite thing to do is to greet the students when they arrive. She is on hand every day to greet the students when the buses come in.
Henderson says that Stallworth is a very caring person.
Stallworth believes that young people need constant love, respect and attention. She was doing this even before she came to Brewton. She used to work for the Jurupa Unified School District at Mission High School Rubidoux, in Riverside, Calif. which had an enrollment of 400 students ranging from the sixth grade through the eighth grade. The students and staff of the school dedicated the school yearbook to her when she left in 1983.
Stallworth was born in Savannah, Ga. into a middle income family. She moved to Peoria, Ill. with her family at a very young age. She attended grade school and high school in Peoria, dropping out of school in the 11th grade. She met her husband there and married him in Chicago in 1952. They soon moved to Kewanee, Ill. and lived there for a while where her husband worked with Firestone and she worked in a munitions plant.
They moved to Riverside, Calif. in 1968 and her husband continued to work with Firestone and they had more children. She went to work with the school system and stayed there until her husband retired in 1983. That was when the family made the trip that brought them to Brewton.
Her husband's family had originally been from the Brewton area and that is where he wanted to move after retirement. She was not too sure that she wanted to move to the South.
She refers to a very bad time in her life. On December 14, her son, Wayne Stallworth was killed, along with three other young men, in a car accident on the road from Evergreen. The young men were all college students and had gone to Evergreen to apply for Christmas vacation jobs with UPS and were on their way home. The car hydroplaned right into the path of an 18-wheeler causing the deaths of all the young men. They were recent graduates of W.S. Neal and the other young men were brothers, Thomas Miller, Sean Miller and John Miller. They were all attending college on football scholarships and were seeking jobs to make a little extra money over the Christmas holidays.
The tragedy was one that hit Brewton hard. The outpouring of love and interest in the young men and their families was overwhelming in the Brewton-East Brewton area. There was one funeral held for the four young men on Dec. 19, at the W.S. Neal High School gym where hundreds of mourners attended. Only two days before the accident, two of the Miller brothers had just played in, and won, the state championship football game. The coaches from the colleges they had selected to attend in the fall were there and a letter of condolence from then-Governor Guy Hunt was read.
It was the dream of Wayne Stallworth to have a place for youngsters to gather to have good, clean fun. With several acres located just off Pea Ridge Road, Pearl Stallworth and her husband, James, decided to make that dream come true. Over the years they have taken donations of playground equipment and funds, making a small area of space near the Stallworth home into the Stallworth Memorial Park.
The dream of her son has become Pearl Stallworth's dream also. She spends a lot of her time making sure that it is will be ready if anyone wishes to use it.
Stallworth is carrying on with her surviving children and her other "children" that come and go through the school and her days are full of looking out for others.