Lee road renamed for area’s matriarch

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – During her 95 years on earth, Mattie Florence touched countless lives in the Chesterville area, and her family wants to make sure she is remembered.
The Lee County Board of Supervisors rededicated Hatley Drive as Mattie Florence Drive on Wednesday at the request of her family and members of the community in which she lived for more than 80 years.
Florence died in 2004 but what she meant to the community will never die.
“She was the matriarch of our community,” said her great-grandson, the Rev. Brian Ezell. “She operated and owned a day care here for many years and she worked it alone, so she raised almost everyone in this community. She was a selfless and great person. There wasn’t one life in the community that she didn’t affect in a positive way. People like her don’t come around every day and we are blessed to have had her in our lives.”
District 3 Supervisor Darrell Rankin said the board had no hesitation about renaming the road for Florence, who died in 2004.
“We were happy to oblige them in their request because I saw how much she meant to everyone out there,” said Rankin.
Venetta Freeman, 79, Florence’s only biological child, was also at the ceremony. Florence also had a foster child who died several years ago. She had six grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great-grandchildren.
Mattie Florence Drive is located in the Chesterville area off County Road 1500.