(FIVE POINTS) Beatrice Geneva (Ward) Bledsoe, 95, the former mayor of Five Points,, died Sunday, Aug. 6 in Gadsden, surrounded by the love and prayers of family. Funeral services were held at First Missionary Baptist Church in Roanoke on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Dr. Melvin Owens officiating. Interment was at Skyview Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Welch.
Mrs. Bledsoe was born May 22, 1928, in Chambers County to the late Charline Allen Ward and the late Freeman Ward. Affectionately known as “Gen,” Mrs. Bledsoe graduated from the Chambers County Training School in Lafayette and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics from Alabama A&M University in Huntsville in 1957. Upon completing her education, Mrs. Bledsoe spent 36 years as an educator in the Chambers County Public School System, teaching science, social studies, and home economics at Phillips High School in Five Points, and Chambers County High School in Milltown.
“I had the most gratifying experience helping students develop into outstanding young men and women,” Mrs. Bledsoe said during Retired Teachers’ Day in 1993. “I’ve always loved to help people. Every day wasn’t easy, but seeing my students strive to do their very best made it all worthwhile.”
In 1992, Mrs. Bledsoe made history when she was elected the first Black and first female mayor of Five Points. She served the 250 residents of the town for 20 years. During her tenure as mayor, she secured federal grants to improve the town’s water and sewer services and placed tremendous emphasis on the growth of families and youth to build a safer and stronger community. She oversaw renovation of the Five Points Community Center to make it handicap accessible and initiated an annual Christmas tree festival.
On May 23, 1953, she married her high school sweetheart, Randolph “Stony” Bledsoe, a United States Marine and the first Black police officer with the LaFayette Police Department. Their union was blessed with twin daughters, Sandra Faye Ware of Roanoke, and Wanda Kaye Smith of Gadsden, and a bonus daughter, Jacqueline Ward of Lanett.
Mrs. Bledsoe was an active and impactful member of her community. She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the NAACP, and the Alabama Conference of Black Mayors. Additionally, she acted as the chairperson of the Chambers County Alabama Democratic Conference and served on a variety of boards, including for the East Alabama Mental Health Center, Chattahoochee Hospice, East Alabama Community Planning, and the Chambers County Enterprise Community.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Randolph Bledsoe; daughter, Sandra Faye (Bledsoe) Ware; son-in-love, Eddy Maurice Ware; brother, Hubert “Pete” Ward; sister-in-love, Ollye Marie Ward; and great-grandchild, D’Marzavion Ferrell.
She leaves to cherish her memories one devoted daughter: Wanda (Kenny) Smith of Gadsden; one extended daughter: Jacqueline Ferrell of Lanett; one loving sister: Annie Winston of Five Points; six grandchildren: Shawn (Joanna) Ferrell and Sonya Ferrell of Lanett, Kia Smith and Kamesha Smith of Atlanta, Jamal Ware of Roanoke and JaJuan (Adrianna) Ware of Huntsville; seven great-grandchildren: Cameron Bothwell and Shai Smith of Atlanta, Amarah Faye Ware of Huntsville, and Shawnteria Ferrell, Hannah Brooks, Jaishawn Ferrell and Jamaanie Ferrell of Lanett; and a host of nieces, nephews, family, colleagues and friends.
Mrs. Bledsoe’s family is especially grateful to the medical staff at Gadsden Regional Medical Center and the home care professionals who cared for her in the final years of her life: Angenette Boley, Denise Collins, Rebecca Curry, Elsie Gibbs, Joe Ann Johnson, Staci Otis and Margaret Row.
To share your online condolences, please visit our website at www.vinesfuneralhome.com.
Vines Funeral Home, Inc., LaFayette, AL is handling the arrangements.