By Cady Inabinett, managing editor of content
Amid Founders’ Day festivities on Oct. 13, a dedication ceremony was held in honor of the newly renamed Charles Webb Jr. Post Office.
Webb worked at the university as a postal worker from 1941 until 1977. Montevallo’s Board of Trustees voted to rename the previously unnamed campus post office after him at their Nov. 5, 2021 meeting.
Relatives of Webb, alumni, current Montevallo students, members of the university’s Board of Trustees and university officials were in attendance at the dedication event, which featured several speakers.
The first was university President Dr. John Stewart. Stewart used his opening remarks to thank several of the university’s trustees, including Todd Strange—who he credited with creating a working group to focus on naming campus structures—and Sen. Rodger Smitherman and Cynthia Todd—who served on the working group.
Stewart refenced a wave of university building renaming that swept across the country in response to 2020’s Black Lives Matter movements. He described Montevallo’s response to this as one of his proudest moments during his 12-year stint as president.
He pointed out that the post office is the second structure on campus the naming working group has named after an African American person. The first was Dr. Wilson Fallin Jr. Hall, which was renamed and dedicated in May.
Stewart also recognized two of Webb’s attending relatives: Webb’s niece Carrie DeYampert-Grider and his great-nephew Ron Grider.
Stewart invited Smitherman to address the audience to speak about his time as a Montevallo student while Webb worked at the university. Smitherman emphasized the essential nature of Webb’s work, saying that it’s only fitting that Webb receives recognition from the university.
Smitherman spoke on Webb’s legacy, saying, “In conclusion, I want to say that, simply, that the mission that we have now is to carry on his legacy. Carry on the way that he was, all the people that he touched.”
UM Foundation Board President Karen Kelly outlined the work done by the naming working group and spoke on Webb’s legacy as well.
“It’s fitting today that we unveil the Charles Webb Post Office. Named for a man who spent his entire career in dedicated service to this university, delivering mail all over campus every single day during a time when paper, written correspondence was the way the world communicated,” said Kelly.
Todd also spoke on the work done by the naming working group. She thanked university archivist Carey Heatherly for providing the group with several figures from Montevallo’s history for the group’s consideration, but said, “Mr. Charles Webb rose to the top of that discussion very quickly regarding his service to the University of Montevallo.”
Todd pointed out that she was moved by Webb’s work ethic and good attitude, saying, “One of the things that struck me in our research was that it was stated that he always had a smile on his face.”
Following Todd, DeYampert-Grider shared memories of her uncle with the crowd, but shared she felt as though she was learning more about Webb.
“I’m overwhelmed. I’m listening to all these accolades for Uncles Charles and it’s like I’m seeing a side of Uncle Charles I didn’t know,” she said.
“The things I have learned today have just warmed my heart. This entire event is just almost more than I can consume. It’s overwhelming, as I said,” DeYampert-Grider said before thanking the university for working to increase campus diversity.
“It seems like this university has stepped forward and put the grandchildren of Jim Crow to shame,” she said.
Following DeYampert-Grider, Grider shared that the dedication has grown his connection to his family and his roots, emphasizing that learning more about Webb has inspired him.
“When I hear the stories of Uncle Charles, I just hear how much he was a people-person. He loved people. And I hear the love of God coming through him towards people, and that’s something that I want to distill as well in my life,” said Grider.
The dedication ceremony concluded with Webb’s relatives, Stewart and several Board of Trustee members cutting a ribbon placed in front of the post office, followed by a reception on Farmer patio.
Cady Inabinett is the managing editor of content for The Alabamian. She’s majoring in English and double-minoring in political science and peace and justice studies. She enjoys reading, watching movies and generally just being pretentious in her free time.