MANTACHIE – Phyllis Hawkins Harper took her small community of Fawn Grove wherever she went, and now a piece of it has been given to her.
The former Fawn Grove-Dorsey Interchange on U.S. Highway 78 was renamed Phyllis Hawkins Harper Interchange on Saturday for the community’s most-dedicated resident. Harper, known to many as “Momma Phyls,” died Feb. 12.
A former proofreader, reporter and columnist of the Daily Journal, Harper’s more than 30-year career in news made her a household name for many Mississippians. And for that reason, state Rep. Steve Holland said it was time to give “Momma Phyls” a piece of home.
“She loved Fawn Grove,” said Holland. “She talked about it and wrote about it in many of her columns. She made people on the outside want to know where Fawn Grove was. She immortalized Fawn Grove to all her readers and to all the world and I couldn’t find a better way to say thank you than this.”
Dozens of family members and friends attended the dedication. As people began to talk about and remember Harper, references to her weekly column aptly named, “It Seems to Me” were mentioned.
“I grew up on those columns,” said Charlene Bills of Tupelo. “They could really get a person through a bad patch. I could hear her voice and see her face when I read them. She made me feel like I was a part of the Fawn Grove family.”
One of Harper’s daughters, Lynn Nelson, who was one of six children, said renaming the interchange after her mother was a honor.
“Mother loved Fawn Grove,” she said. “She talked and wrote about it for most of her life and to have this interchange dedicated to her is a great honor and I know she’s looking down smiling.”
As the blue road sign that read Phyllis Hawkins Harper Interchange was unveiled, the crowd applauded and shared tears and hugs.
Holland said the fact that the renaming of the interchange passed unanimously in the House and the Senate was a testament to the type of person Harper was.
“I remember reading these words in one of her columns and every time I pass through Fawn Grove I think about these words,” said Holland. “She wrote, ‘I know salvation is the only way to get you to heaven, but I declare it sure wouldn’t hurt to go by the way of Fawn Grove.’”
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal