Helen Keller once said, “When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” She could certainly be considered quite the influential person. Just as she impacted countless people in her life, this quote is true of many people around the world including Bossier. There are many amazing women in the history of Bossier who have done their best to make positive change for the community.
1. Mary Cane
A list of influential women of Bossier couldn’t be started anywhere but here. Mary Cane settled in the area of Bossier City in the early part of the nineteenth century. It might surprise some to know that a woman could be a successful businesswoman and landowner as far back as the 1830’s, but Mary Cane accomplished that and much more.
Land from Cane’s Landing was sold, and the area would become known as Bossier in 1894. Ms. Cane, successful though she was, did not have a life free of controversy. She did not allow any of the whispers or rumors surrounding her life to hamper the impact she had, however.
2. Pearl Taylor Waller
If you have driven through Bossier City or lived here for any amount of time, you’ve seen and experienced part of the lasting impact of Pearl Taylor Waller on this community. Born in 1874, Waller moved to Bossier City in 1923 along with her husband. When he died a year later, Waller didn’t simply live out her years. She changed Bossier City forever.
Waller Baptist Church, Waller Elementary School, Rusheon Middle School, Kerr Elementary and more local landmarks owe their very foundation to this lady. She didn’t make a fortune on land sales either, though she was approached about a land purchase for the area. Instead, she donated land for these places and more.
It is literally impossible to drive through the heart of Bossier City and not experience the result of the giving spirit of Pearl Taylor Waller. Her graceful impact will live on in indefinitely in the Bossier area and she will forever be fondly remembered for her many gifts to the city.
3. Alice Jeter
The previous two ladies left an impact on the area that cannot be overstated. However, their influence is now living on in their memory. That of Alice Jeter is building still, every weekend when she picks up litter from her neighborhood streets. Picking up litter isn’t where Ms. Jeter’s best stops, though. She lives still today in the Barksdale Annex neighborhood and actively makes the area better, consistently changing the lives of those around her for the better, just by being willing to do her part and be herself.
“I started working with the youth, got involved cleaning around the houses and painting,” Jeter said. “I got involved with them and then they asked me if I wanted to be on the board and I said yes. I just keep busy.”
Jeter has worked with the Barksdale Annex Neighborhood Association endlessly to help clean, improve, and stabilize the Annex area. This isn’t the type of help that works behind a desk. This is the kind of help that hits the street, still now. Now in her 70’s, Jeter still walks the neighborhood streets with her grabbers and picks up trash.
“You know what? Cleanness makes a big difference. People started seeing what I was trying to do, and they still throw out paper and stuff, but Lord, twenty years ago you wouldn’t believe the stuff I had to go through. Thank God we’ve come a long way.”
And they have come a long way. A couple of decades ago the Annex neighborhood was not the place it is today. Is it perfect? It isn’t, but the work is still being done and the results speak for themselves.
Her impact on the area even reaches past the Barksdale Annex area as she has helped other youth with community service hours clean her streets as well.
“They’ll call and they’ll say I’ve got so many hours, and I’ll say come on,” Jeter said. “I’ll do it with them.”
She helps the kids all the time and with more than just cleaning up. She gives them advice, a drink of water if they need it, perhaps a little money for a snack, and something much more important.
“You know, most of them are looking for love.”
She provides that more importantly than perhaps all the other wonderful things she does. There isn’t a sense of burden here, but one of duty and accomplishment. A sense of pride in what she’s been able to do. Jeter admits she’s not been alone throughout these decades.
“I thank God. If it hadn’t been for him holding my hand to do the things that I do, I wouldn’t be able to do them,” Jeter said.
The love that she provides for this neighborhood, largely through the youth and the kids here, makes a huge difference in the entire area’s livelihood.
She’s proud of what they’ve been able to do. And she’s had support from the city as well. But at the core of it all is a relationship between young people of the Barksdale Annex Neighborhood and a loving lady who cares for them.
“Those are my babies,” Jeter said. “I just love my kids. I tell people, don’t meddle with my kids.”
The Barksdale Annex neighborhood is a better place than it used to be. It’s a cleaner place, a more loving place, and much of that is due to the love and dedication of Jeter. The Barksdale Annex Neighborhood Association helps her and together they buy school supplies in August, coats for kids in the area in January, giveaways to promote decorations at Christmas time, and so much more. Together they are making a lasting impact on the Bossier community.