Deborah Hodges Bagwell
Deborah Hodges Bagwell has always had a great attitude. Her attitude was a key in helping her to become a Post Master for the U.S. Postal Service in just fifteen years.
She and I attended Dora Elementary School at the same time in the late 50’s. She got married in the 11th grade and quit school shortly afterwards, but that was not the end of her education.
She worked with her mom at Randy’s Cream Cone restaurant in Dora. At that time, Randy's made the best cheeseburger on the planet. It was there that she learned an invaluable lesson from her mom. “Always do your best at whatever job you undertake. Whether you're bussing tables or building houses, always do your best,” her mom said. “If you do your best, people will notice and you will do well with any job you undertake.” Deborah took those words to heart and she has applied that work ethic through the years.
Deborah resumed her education after her children reached junior high school. “I could have gone to work earlier, but I always wanted to be there for my kids,” she remembers. Once they were old enough, she took classes at Bevill State and got her GED, but she didn’t stop there. She started taking courses for college credit and later transferred to Samford University studying Psychology and Counseling. In a different time, she could have become a teacher there, but in those days, her gender worked against her. She did leave there with a certificate in counseling.
Deborah started with the U.S. Postal Service in 1991 in Empire. While she has worked all over the state in post offices large and small, she remained based out of Empire until this week. With her promotion, she will become the Post Master of Ralph, Alabama which is a facility in Tuscaloosa County.
She was promoted because of her attitude and work ethic. “One of my bosses said that I’m one of the few people on staff that knows the inner workings of the postal service from top to bottom,” she recalls. “I’ve been the Officer in Charge at Shannon, Garden City and Empire,” she says. Deborah will be working on a special operations project which will take her to facilities all over the state and very possibly all over America training younger people on things that they don’t teach in school. She is very excited about this opportunity. Her goal is to become Post Master at Dora, but that probably not be anytime soon.
When Deborah was in school, she had one teacher at Bevill that really pushed her harder than any before or since. Alesha Hultgrin, who taught English, was instrumental in Deborah’s decision to continue on with her education. “There were times that I didn’t like her very much, but she pushed me into becoming a better student.”
Deborah still lives in the house in which she was raised. It’s on Red Star Hill in the old part of Dora.
“I love this town,” she says proudly “it’s where my husband Jim and I raised all three kids. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.” Her kids are Charlee Ann Rogers, 30; Will Bagwell, 27; and Beth Bagwell 25. “All my kids attended Dora High and have grown up to be great people and I am very proud of them,” she beams.
I asked Deborah what advice she has for young people today and she said this: “It doesn’t matter what job you have, apply your self and do the very best you can. Learn everything you can because the things you learn in one job will often help you out in other jobs.”
When I asked Deborah how she would like to be remembered she said something very interesting: “I would like to be remembered as someone who worked hard and was always of service to others.”
Good luck Deborah in your new position.