LOCAL FOLKS: Larson finds career satisfaction despite early disinterest

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – Kay Martin Larson may be Northeast Mississippi’s spunkiest, artsiest accidental court reporter ever.
“I was never going to work,” Larson said recently, recalling her growing-up days. “I was just going to get a husband and that was that.”
Born in Memphis, she moved to Corinth at age 4 with her mother, Greta, and younger sister. That’s where her mom met Frank Martin, who owned Gibson Discount stores.
Martin married Greta, he adopted the girls and they moved to Laurel. Later a son joined the family.
Larson said she started working at the local Gibson’s at age 9, stocking shelves. At 15, she was promoted to minimum wage with little thought to anything but having fun.
Now, 52, the petite blonde laughs about her two years at Jones County Junior College, where she mostly “goofed around.” Ultimately Daddy Frank put his proverbial foot down, said she either was going to be successful with higher education or she was going to work at Gibson’s the rest of her life.
“I told him right back that I was going to be a court reporter,” Larson recalls, admittedly pulling the career choice out of the air because her best friend had such a goal at the University of Mississippi.
In the end, that’s what happened, although the twists and turns are a lot more colorful.
Suffice it to say that at age 32, she completed court-reporting certification and returned to Laurel, still looking for that no-work career in domesticity.
One day, she said, her mother told her she’d set up some work for her through a local law office.
“I called the law office and said I didn’t have any typing paper so I couldn’t come,” Larson tells on herself. “You can just imagine what that woman thought of me, a girl who’s father owned a giant store full of typing paper.”
Four months later, Daddy Frank stopped the gravy train.
For the next two years, Larson said she hated every day of work but she couldn’t quit because she needed the money. It was hard work, too.
After a couple of moves, she landed with a computerized Biloxi law firm where her career blossomed, she got married, got divorced and finally came to Corinth after then-District Attorney Johnny Young called to say an assistant had won a judgeship and was in need of a court reporter.
Two weeks later, she was back home with her mother and grandmother, Bernice Fraley. She also brought along her 10-year-old son, Mark Steven, now an energetic 15-year-old in the Corinth schools.
“I love my job,” she said. “It’s still hard, but it’s a different type of hard.”
Larson, who admits she likes to surround herself with bright colors, also is known to shout “speak up” to witnesses and others officially involved in the courtroom.
“If I can’t hear it, I can’t take it down,” she emphasizes.
She likes the traveling across the district’s seven counties and working with circuit clerks and their staffs.
When she’s not working, she’s shaping glass baubles into colorful designs for crosses, planters and frames.
“God had a plan, it all came together and now I’m here,” she said.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com