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Trips to State, Coast, Prentiss mark passages within Association


Executive Director


A recent visit to Mitchell Memorial Library at Mississippi State on a hot Thursday afternoon in September yielded a trove of material that will be put to good use during MPA’s 150th anniversary observances next year.

Some members may recall that MPA donated its archives of documents and photos to the library at State a little over 15 years ago. Over time, we’ve added to the collection by delivering a few boxes every now and then of material that really didn’t need to be in the office anymore, but, for whatever reason, I could not bear to part with.

In looking for photos here at the office to display and publish during the sesquicentennial year in 2016, it became obvious a trip to research what our archives held would be necessary. Our past decade’s worth of photos are digital files. There’s about another 5-6 years worth of print photos on file here that were taken after the archives were established at State in 1999.

So anything that was more vintage than that year would have to be pulled from the files at MSU. My research assistant on this trip was Calhoun County Journal editor and MPA Sesquicentennial Committee Chair Lisa McNeece. Fittingly, Lisa was President of MPA the year our papers were donated to State.

What we found there were some fascinating photos of MPA faces and events from the mid-to-late 20th Century. And it will be fun to share these memories at events in 2016, beginning with the Mid-Winter Conference in January.

EARLIER IN THE summer, I headed to Gulfport for an event I was actually kind of dreading.

Stan Tiner, editor of the SunHerald since the early 2000s, announced his retirement this past spring. It was timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, an appropriate point for Stan to celebrate the hard work of the newspaper during that period and to set sail on his next adventure – which, we’re told, is to write a book.

I say I was dreading it because Stan’s retirement is another milestone in what has been shaping up as a period of rapid change in the cast of characters who make up the Association.

Lloyd Gray’s retirement from the Daily Journal in Tupelo over the summer is another example of this.

Torches get passed all of the time, but these two fellas have had a long and lasting impact not just on newspapers in our state but the Association itself. Lloyd, for instance, worked for papers in Greenville, Meridian, Gulfport and elsewhere. He also served as president of the Association and as chairman of the Foundation.

Stan’s reception was a touching event where the affection and respect the paper’s staff, its corporate parent and the community at large feel for the guy was obvious.

It was a reminder that in so many ways what we do truly is more than just a job.

MY HEART was even heavier to travel to Prentiss recently to pay my respects at the loss of Patsy Speights, longtime editor of The Prentiss Headlight and another past president of MPA.

Patsy had been ill for a long time but she quite literally never let it get her down. She had numerous scares over the past several years but always rebounded. One could never count her out.

Just before she died, Patsy and I shared a conversation that was as much “business as usual” as any we’d had. As a matter of fact, she had just that day been discharged from the hospital and was on her way home.

Indeed she was; a week later, she was gone. Feisty as ever, Patsy was one to do things on her own terms. Even to the end.

Layne Bruce is executive director of the Mississippi Press Association and a career newspaper professional. His email address is

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