People of Etowah – James “Jay” Hedgspeth


Name: James “Jay” Hedgspeth.

Where were you born and raised?

“I am a native to Gadsden.  Aside from a short spell in Tuscaloosa for school and Indiana for a job, Gadsden has been home.”

What is your occupation?

“I am a mortgage loan officer with First Federal Mortgage.”

What made you decide to work in your field?

“I have a financial background through school, and have a heart for helping people.  A home purchase is the largest financial decision for most Americans, and I am honored that people trust me to help.”

Tell us about your family and pets.

“My wife Claire and I have been married for five years. She is a teacher with the Gadsden City School System. We have a two-year-old daughter, Hadley, and a dog named Bailey.”

Describe an average day in your life.

“After a normal morning routine, I put in my hours at the office.  My normal activities during work hours consist of taking loan applications, contact realtors and maintaining any other business relationships, and attend meetings for various community organizations with whom I participate.  After hours, I may have more meetings, or will go home to play with my daughter and spend time with family.”

What school or schools have you attended?

“I attended Westbrook Christian School for high school and graduated from The University of Alabama with a bachelor’s degree from its business school.”

What do you like to do in your free time?

“I enjoy spending time with my family in whatever way possible.  I also enjoy football season, hunting, playing music, and working in the community.”

What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?

“Raising my daughter with my wife is the greatest accomplishment I can imagine. I am a proud father, and consider myself blessed to have a partner who is so dedicated to our child’s success.”

Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why?

“My father is the first person that comes to mind.  As a long-time servant of Etowah County as District Attorney, he taught me the importance of community service and keeping your word.”

To what do you credit your success?

“There are so many factors to my success. With God’s help and grace go I.  Etowah County, as a whole, has helped me be successful.  Its people, its education, its organizations. The resources are available here, but work must be done to realize a gain. It is a healthy blend of who you know, what you know, what is around you, but most importantly, what you do with it.”

Are you involved in any service organizations?

“I am currently, or have been recently involved with the following:  Gadsden Kiwanis, Etowah County Mega Sports Complex Authority, United Way of Etowah County, American Red Cross, Junior Achievement, Gadsden First United Methodist Church, MANNA, and “Bash in the Bend” concert committee benefitting the James M. Barrie Center.”

What is your favorite thing about this community?

“We are a very giving community. My various involvement with the above mentioned organizations have made me aware of many of the worthwhile organizations we have and those that help support it.”

What would you like to see change in the community?

“I would like to see higher quality and higher paying jobs that would make our young people want to come back, or stay, in Etowah County, and a better support for our education system so that our teachers can better prepare our children for their future.”

What are three words that describe you?

“Loyal, Steward, Innovative.”

What is something surprising that many do not know about you?

“Prior to marriage and moving membership to Gadsden First United Methodist Church, I was the seventh continuous generation member of First Baptist Church of Gadsden, and am a fifth generation continuous generation member of Gadsden Lodge #236 F&AM.”

What is your favorite quote?

“What man is a man who does not make his world better?”

What is on your bucket list?

“My bucket list is an ever-growing list.  But, as cliché as it is, a main one is that I want to travel the world.  There are so many wonderful places on this planet that God has created, I want to see them all!”

What is your hidden talent?

“I play music by ear, and am a self-proclaimed amateur at guitar, piano, bass, mandolin and drums.”

If a movie were made about your life, who would you want to play you?

“I would like to go back in time to a young Michael Douglas.”

What advice would you give yourself as a child?

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.  To quote the Zac Brown Band, “Save your strength for things that you can change, forgive the ones you can’t.”

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