CORINTH PAYS RESPECT TO FORMER MAYOR, E.S. BISHOP

CATEGORY: Alcorn County

AUTHOR: SUMMER

CORINTH PAYS RESPECT TO FORMER MAYOR, E.S. BISHOP

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – Members of the black and white communities of Corinth came together Friday to honor a man who helped bridge racial barriers.

A funeral for Edward Simon “E.S.” Bishop Sr. was held in the high school auditorium to accommodate a crowd estimated at over 600.

Bishop, who died Monday at age 88, remained interested in the future of his community until the end, friends said. The first and only black mayor of a majority white city in Mississippi, Bishop retired from office in 1994 but never quit working for the people he loved.

Mayor Jerry Latch eulogized Bishop as “one of Corinth’s greatest citizens” who showed that one person can make a difference.

Corinth Superintendent of Schools Dr. Wayne Gann said Bishop served the Corinth school system with distinction for 38 years and made more contributions after retirement than most folks do in a lifetime.

An honor graduate of Jackson State University, Bishop pursued graduate studies at Fisk University, Northwestern University, University of Mississippi and Southern Illinois University, where he earned a master’s of science degree in education administration. A student leader and member of the football team at JSU, he was later inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame and named alumni of the year.

Bishop moved to Corinth in 1935 to become principal of Easom High School which was among the first 10 black high schools in Mississippi accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

After desegregation, he became coordinator of federal programs. “That is when I really became a politician,” Bishop often said. He became skilled at acquiring federal funding at a time when other cities were shunning it for fear of government interference.

He was instrumental in developing the first urban renewal project in the state. One of his pet projects was the Alcorn County Human Resource Agency, which named the senior citizen facility Bishop Center after him.

As president of the Jackson State University Alumni Association from 1972-1976, he lobbied the state Legislature for building funds for the college, said current alumni association President Melvene Coney. JSU President Emeritus Dr. John Peoples said Bishop “was a one-man chamber of commerce for his beloved alma mater.”

Walter Fry, a former student of the man fondly known as “Professor” or “Prof,” said Bishop was a tremendous force in life who encouraged students to excel.

Addressing Bishop’s political career, businessman Thurston Little said Bishop was a giant among men who had the wisdom of Solomon and the patience of Job.

Alliance member Rosemary Williams said Bishop was a visionary. During a visit at the hospital a week ago, he told Williams to save news clippings to help keep him informed.

Dr. Harold Bishop, an instructor at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, noted that during times of personal crisis, he always asks, “What would daddy do?” Bishop taught his children how to succeed and that success isn’t measured in how much money one earns but in how much effort one puts into something, his son said.

Bishop’s nephew, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop of Columbus, Ga., read a letter of condolence to Mrs. Bishop from President and Mrs. Clinton.

St. Mark Baptist Church pastor Dannie Walker said Bishop’s long and fruitful life speaks for itself. A dedicated member of St. Mark, Bishop served as church clerk for over 40 years, was a deacon, chairman of the board of trustees and building committee chairman.

He received numerous awards, including the James O. Eastland Award, Rotary Club Citizen of the Year, Junior Auxiliary Citizen of the Year, and Governor’s Merit Award.

He leaves his wife of 66 years, Eva Hunter Bishop, three sons, a daughter, 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by one son.

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