I do not write many things for my own publication for the simple fact that I do not believe I am a good writer. My wife and friends would argue that I am; I just do not take the time to do so. Writing has always been something I had to make myself do despite my own beliefs about my abilities. I figure it just doesn’t keep my attention. So, bear with me as I finish out this tribute series dedicated to the memory of the Mississippi Press.
My father, who passed last Memorial Day weekend (2022), was an avid writer. I have heard him described by some of his former colleagues as a “PR giant.” While cleaning out his home, my brother and I came across binders full of company policies, marketing plans, newspaper articles, and so much more that he had a hand in writing. “PR Giant,” what a title for someone. I only knew my father as a superhero. I thought the PR stuff he did as his job was just part of his superpowers.
I dare say I followed in his footsteps, but I now understand his love for his work, friends, and community.
I remember my dad keeping piles of newspapers around the house and in his office. MS Press, Sun Herald, Mobile Press-Register, and even Clarion-Ledger. He always wanted to have his finger on the pulse of the community as one should in his position. My father’s “claim to fame” was his important role at International Paper in Moss Point as the communications and PR director. Perhaps there was another title for him, but that’s what I always told people.
My dad was tasked with high-level crisis management and community relations for IP. I always remember thinking it was cool that he was on the news often or that his photo was in the paper. I always admired the fact that everywhere we went, he knew someone. Many of those people he knew were news media, and rightfully so.
So here I sit. Publisher of a news publication. Well, not hard news, but news that I believe people enjoy and care about. Go figure. Today, my kids refuse to go to the grocery store with me because I’ll stop and talk to someone I know. Moreover, I’ll pull over on a side street to say hello to someone and talk about fishing. It drives them crazy. Good grief, can I talk? I undoubtedly inherited the gift of gab from the “PR Giant.” Thanks, dad!
My dad gave me something I strive to provide for my kids… ambition. Ambition to care about my community as he did and do whatever I can to control the narrative of our great state.
I actually tried to get him to write for me a few times, but of course, he snubbed me and told me he was overqualified. He grinned when he said it, but he was serious. I think one time, he halfway considered writing some Old Crabs when I tried to bring it back, but no amount of offers to weed flowerbeds or wash the car could get him to fold.
Yeah, my dad was a giant.
I can hear my dad over my shoulder right now telling me I am breaking every journalistic rule in the book. “You never write a letter from the publisher in the first person!” Those would be his very words. “Get to the point, son!”
Well, here it is, folks.
I grew up walking to the end of the driveway and bringing in the Mississippi Press every weekend. The first thing I would do is read the Old Crab, then the comics section. Entertainment was easy back then! I have many memories of sitting at the table Saturday mornings, reading the Sports section with my dad. Here I am years later, running a series to say goodbye to the MS Press on my own publication, coming up one year after saying goodbye to my superhero. I am thankful for all the memories we had together while looking at the paper. Particularly the ones where silly putty was involved to make impressions of the comics.
Those now memories seemed insignificant then but mean the world to me now. My small memories of the MS Press have led all my roads here.
Our Mississippi Home was an accident. I had no direction for it when my phone rang a few years ago. That phone call and coffee meeting changed the trajectory of my life. Chevron Pascagoula Refinery has not only been a great community partner for this site, but they have also been a Godsend in my family’s life.
I have been fortunate to befriend former MS Press journalists who helped build Our Mississippi Home, and now 228 Sports. I am genuinely grateful to all of those who have helped me get this thing to where it is. Our Mississippi Home is not the Mississippi Press. It never will be. However, it is homegrown by some of the same people I remember my dad being friends with while they made the MS Press what it was.
The question remains, will I be able to walk in a giant’s footsteps? I’m gonna try!
This site’s success is because of the people who helped get it here. I owe a lot to the people who I have surrounded myself with. My dad loved the fact that I built Our Mississippi Home. I always wanted to make him proud of the mark I left on this community. I think I had him (and others) worried for a while. He really wouldn’t have cared about my accomplishments, or lack of, though. He was most proud of his grandkids, Addison, Elliott, Taylor, Caleb, and DJ. They were his “why.”
I hope everyone has enjoyed the articles from the former staff and friends. I hope our readers can once again remember what a special place we live in. The MS Press may not run again, but it’s ok. Look what it has inspired! We really do live in a special place!
Thank you all for your support in making this all happen.