Taking care of business: Mildred Newman keeps Oxford Lumber's finances in order
by Patrick McCreless
pmccreless@annistonstar.com
Aug 15, 2013 | 4964 views |  0 comments | 116 116 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mildred Newman working in her office at Oxford Lumber and Ace Hardware. Photo by Stephen Gross.
Mildred Newman working in her office at Oxford Lumber and Ace Hardware. Photo by Stephen Gross.
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OXFORD – Numbers matter to Mildred Newman, except when they involve age.

Less than three months shy of her 90th birthday, Newman still works eight hours per day, six days per week at Oxford Lumber, managing the finances for the company she and her husband, Charles Newman, opened more than 50 years ago.

"She's pretty amazing," said her son, Bill Newman, president of Oxford Lumber since his father's death in 1999. "She never misses a day of work."

Bill Newman said his mother has worked at Oxford Lumber throughout the lifespan of the company, which today also operates three hardware stores in Jacksonville, Talladega and Roanoke. Despite her continued contributions, however, she would rather not receive any recognition, Bill Newman said.

"She's very humble," he said. "She doesn't want to ever be spotlighted or recognized."

It would be hard to guess Mildred Newman's stature in the company just by looking at her. Dressed in a simple white, long-sleeved shirt and grey pants Wednesday, the small, unassuming woman sat behind a desk stacked with papers and tucked into a corner on the second floor of Oxford Lumber.

Asked why and how she continues to work a difficult job, however, Mildred Newman's humility again bleeds through.

"I guess because I've done it so long it's just a habit," she said in a quiet voice. "I guess math comes pretty easy to me but I've never thought of myself as being very good."

However, she is always hard at work, managing accounts payable and receivable along with dealing with vendors, Bill Newman said.

"She lives by herself ... she goes to church. She drives and does her own grocery shopping ... she's very independent," he said. "And she handles her own retirement plan and insurance ... she's really, really sharp."

Born in Louisville, Ky., Mildred Newman started out as a registered nurse but moved with her husband to Oxford in the late 1950s and they soon opened a lumber company with their life savings.

"He had worked in a lumber yard and wanted to give it a shot on his own," Mildred Newman said of her husband.

She taught herself how to manage the company's books soon after the business opened.

She said she enjoys her work and wouldn't know what to do with herself or her time if she were to quit altogether.

"I'm better off working," she said with a smile.

Newman admitted, however, that she might finally start taking it easy one day, but she just doesn't know when that will happen.

"I feel very fortunate to be able to work this long," she said. "It's by the grace of God mostly."

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.

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