By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Eloise Scott taught home economics for more than 30 years at Mooreville High School and then was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives where she continued to champion issues affecting children.
Scott, 81, whose tenure in the state House lasted from 1988 until January 2003, died late Wednesday night after a prolonged illness. She was living at the Laney Green House at United Methodist Senior Services in Tupelo.
Scott was the first woman to represent Lee County in the Legislature.
“She was the perfect, living example of the Southern lady,” said former House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, who served four terms with Scott in the Legislature. “She was most kind and courteous to everyone.
“She was a great friend, great educator and great legislator. I have been with her so many times when former students would come up, hug her and tell her what she meant to their lives. Friends and neighbors would, too.”
Former House Speaker Tim Ford, then a Baldwyn Democrat, who like Scott represented a portion of Lee County, said, “Eloise Scott brings back memories of good times in the Mississippi State Legislature. She was always so pleasant and loved representing her ‘people from Lee County.’
“She was pretty good at keeping people in line, having taught school for many years before going to the Legislature. Education was her passion. Mississippi is a better place because of Eloise Scott. I will miss her.”
Ford appointed Scott vice chairwoman of the Education Committee in only her second term in the House. She served two terms as Education vice chairwoman while McCoy chaired the committee. During her second term as vice chairwoman, the historic Adequate Education Program, designed to provide equitable funding to poor school districts, was passed.
McCoy said Scott – with her years in teaching – provided valuable practical experience to the Education Committee. During her final term, she chaired the Ethics Committee.
Scott lost a close election in 1983 to then incumbent Tommy Brooks. Former Rep. Bill Miles of Fulton, who ran Scott’s successful 1987 campaign for the Legislature, said her campaign signs were designed like the “children on board” signs and she had a strong base of former students and parents who worked to get her elected.
“She always was an advocate for young people,” he said. “And she was a pioneer in terms of advocating for early childhood education.”
Scott also was the primary architect in the Legislature in creating the Commission on the Status of Women and later served on the agency’s board.
Former Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, who is now a vice president for campus services at Mississippi State University, said Scott “was a treasured friend. She always looked out for the best interests of her constituents. She exemplified a caring spirit and was a passionate advocate for the children of our state.”
Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, who also represented portions of Lee County with Scott, said she was known as a “serious person,” but remembers a time when she and two other female members of the Legislature dressed as raisins to good-naturedly criticize then-speaker Ford whom had taken a position they did not like.
Holland said she “was the quintessential Proverbs 31 woman. She lived her faith passionately, devoted her life selflessly to others, especially school children, and blazed a trail for women in politics that is hardly surpassed today in Mississippi.”