Alabaster remembers city’s first female officer

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Family members and Alabaster Police Department officials are remembering a woman who served as a familiar face at the city’s schools for a quarter-century.

Dawkins

Calera resident Doris Jean Dawkins, who passed away Dec. 6 at the age of 76, became Alabaster’s first female police officer in 1973, and helped keep children safe at the city’s schools until 1998.

Dawkins entered the field a few years after tragedy struck her family.

“My brother got run over in 1969, and that just devastated her. After that happened, it was very traumatic for her,” said Vanessa Parker Reed, Dawkins’ daughter. “A friend of hers was (former Alabaster Police Chief) Larry Rollan’s mother, and he asked if she wanted to be a policewoman.”

After she was hired part-time by the department, Dawkins began directing traffic at the city’s schools on U.S. 31 and Alabama 119.

“That kind of helped ease the pain,” Reed said. “She wanted to make sure nobody else got run over.”

Current Alabaster Police Chief Stanley Oliver worked with Dawkins for many years, and said she became a familiar face directing traffic into and out of the schools every morning and afternoon.

“I would send a man out there to direct traffic and get a complaint every time. But I sent her to direct traffic and people loved her,” Oliver said with a laugh. “She wanted to be out there every day helping the kids. She loved kids.”

When Dawkins began working at the department, Alabaster had only three schools: an elementary school and a high school on Alabama 119 and a middle school on U.S. 31 where the Shelby County Instructional Services Center is now.

“She just had a way with people,” Oliver said. “She will be greatly missed.”

“She was a very giving person. She would feed everyone who came into her house,” Reed said. “She treated everyone like family.”

Dawkins was the daughter of the late Phillip Williamson and the late Thelma Duvall Williamson.

She was preceded in death by her son, Bruce Glenn Dawkins. She is survived by her loving husband of 56 years, Billy Bruce Dawkins; daughters, Vanessa Parker Reed and Tish Dawkins; brother, Charles Williamson (Rolanda); grandchildren, Jason Parker and Dusty Parker (Liz); and great-grandchildren, Carter, Lilli and Orin Parker.

Arrangements were handled by Charter Funeral Home, where the family received friends Dec. 8 from 6-8 p.m. Funeral services were Friday Dec. 9, 2011 at Hickory Hills Church at 11 a.m. with interment at Elliottsville Cemetery. Reverends Andy Cummins and Donnell Brown officiating. Charter Funeral Home directed.