Bobby Williams, 72, is in his third term as mayor of Verona, which next weekend celebrates its 150th birthday. Williams has lived in the South Lee town for most of his life and, in an interview with the Journal’s Danza Johnson, reflects on the changes he’s seen. For more on next weekend’s celebration, see Page B1.
Q: What type of town was Verona when you were growing up?
A:My family moved to Verona from Shannon in 1946 when I was in the second grade and I’ve been here ever since. I’ve never lived anywhere else and I never will. When I was growing up, Verona was a great town, and it’s still a great town. I remember walking past the old train depot and watching the old men play cards and shoot dice. My father owned a gas station that my brothers and I ran for 40 years. Verona has been very good to me and to everyone who lives here. A lot of things have changed, but change is a part of time passing. There are things I miss about the old Verona and things I love about the new one.
Q:What are some of the things you miss and some of the things that have really changed over the years about Verona?
A:We use to have a downtown area full of shops and businesses. Downtown was the heart of the town when I was coming up. Verona was also a cotton town, so there were lots of cotton gins. I can remember going to high school right here in Verona. Now we only have an elementary school. In the ’50s we had a state championship winning girls basketball team. Today’s Verona has a lot less businesses downtown and a lot more churches and day care centers throughout town. Things have changed, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but just different for a lot of us older citizens.
Q:Verona is 150 years, old, the oldest chartered town in Lee County. What comes to mind when you think about Verona’s history?
A:History is the best word to describe Verona. We are the home of the first Bank of Mississippi. The first president of the bank is buried in our cemetery. A key battle in the Civil War was fought right here in Verona. Verona was the heart of our county once upon a time. So when I think about where this town has come from and it being 150 years old it puts a smile on my face. I couldn’t have lived in a better place, and that’s why I have never left and I will never leave. I will die here and will be buried right here in Verona. Even that thought makes me smile.
Danza Johnson / NEMS Daily Journal