Polly Jeter’s first day on the job as a communication’s officer in 1983 was the same day Higgins Funeral Home caught fire – she was the only dispatcher on the console during that stressful time and later received an award for the way she handled it.
Polly not only was the first black woman to work at the Fayetteville Police Department as communications officer, but she was also as a reserve patrolwoman. Later, in the 1980s, when areas of Fayetteville flooded, she dispatched all night long. And years after that, she became the first black female supervisor of the E911 Communications Center.
She would go on to serve as a dispatcher here for the next 31 years. Friday, April 25, she officially retired, hanging up her headset for the final time.
On April 29 a retirement party was held for her at the E911 Center, attended by friends, family and co-workers. In honor of the occasion, co-workers at the center presented her a handcrafted rocking chair. Polly’s career as a dispatcher is not the only career she’s had though.
Throughout her lifetime Polly has aspired to meet many goals and has achieved them all. She is admired for her warmth and courage, and gives credit to her faith in God. Two of her major goals, Polly said, during her retirement party, “I always wanted to work here (Communications Center) and the health department.”
In the mid ‘70s she became the first black female to work at the Lincoln County Health Department. But she has attained many other goals as well.
After graduating from West End High School in 1955, she attended Tennessee State University and Peabody College in Nashville.
From 1963-64, the year Headstart began in Lincoln County, she was among the first to teach at the Petersburg site. She also served as a substitute teacher for Fayetteville and Lincoln County schools. She was the first person to work at Sir’s Fabrics during the turbulent Civil Rights’ era in the mid-60s.
Polly was appointed magistrate in 1993 under Mayor John Ed Underwood and reappointed for the city under both Underwood and former mayor Mark Clark.
She served as a member of the Hannah’s House board of directors, as chaplain of FOP Lodge District 12, and graduated from the 2005-06 Leadership Lincoln Class. She has been an active member of St. Paul A.M.E. Church and serves on The Legacy Committee, which works to preserve the history of the church.
Polly is the mother of Jams Eslick Waller and the late Benita Waller Brooks, who just passed away April 15 of this year. Benita had graduated from Austin Peay University in Clarksville and James graduated from the Southern University of Illinois.
Polly is also a grandmother and great-grandmother.