Co-founder of the Jimmie Hale Mission, Jessie Hale Downs, passes

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – The co-founder of the Jimmie Hale Mission and namesake of the Jessie's Place shelter for women and children has passed away.

Ms. Jessie Hale Downs passed away in her sleep on Tuesday morning.

Downs was known for her work with the homeless population in the Birmingham area. She and her husband, Jimmie Hale, opened the Downtown Mission in 1944. Hale passed away in 1944 and the Downtown Mission would be renamed the Jimmie Hale Mission.

Downs continued her work with the Jimmie Hale Mission and served as the Executive Director for 46 years. She stepped down in 1990, but continued to share her ministry through the mission.

Eventually a shelter for women and children was made and named "Jessie's Place" in her honor.

 "She is truly the heartbeat of the Jimmie Hale Mission," says current Executive Director of the Jimmie Hale Mission, Tony Cooper. "Her courage to persevere in the midst of hardship has challenged and empowered countless number of Birmingham's former homeless to get back on their feet and back into life.  She will have a great reward in heaven.  We will miss her very much."