Women of Distinction heralded as trailblazers

TUPELO – The 2009 Women of Distinction have championed the law, advocated for the arts, preserved the past, cared for the sick and worked countless unpaid volunteer hours.
Juanita Floyd of New Expectations for Women in Mississippi called the honorees role models, friends, heroes and mentors as she introduced them at Thursday’s recognition event.
The CREATE Foundation organization, which is called NEWMS, gives the awards every two years.
Federal Judge Sharion Aycock’s trailblazing work led to her appointment as the first female federal circuit judge in Mississippi.
“A women’s work is anywhere and everywhere a woman makes a difference,” Floyd said in quoting Aycock, of Fulton.
Lisa Hawkins, who owns Tupelo’s Room-to-Room Furniture with husband Jim, was recognized for her volunteer efforts on behalf of CREATE, Sanctuary Hospice House, the United Way and others.
“Our community has a real important history of service to others,” Floyd said in quoting Hawkins. “I just think I’m a reflection of our community.”
Honoree Minnie Jamison kept volunteering in 1985 as she was being treated for colon cancer, Floyd said. This summer, when her cancer returned, her main concern was who was going to make her meal deliveries to the elderly.
Jamison was hospitalized on Wednesday and not able to attend. Her daughter, Marcy Jamison, accepted the award for her.
Margaret Anne Murphey was honored her long service to arts in the community.
“Music matters,” said Murphey, who serves as executive director of the Tupelo Symphony. “The symphony makes a difference in Tupelo.”
Corinth’s Rosemary Williams was honored for five decades of service, particularly for her work in preserving Corinth’s historic buildings and culture.
“It is evident she loves Corinth and the people of Corinth,” Floyd said. “When others didn’t understand your vision, you stayed on the journey.”
In a surprise honor, Sandi Morris was honored for her work as a founding member of NEWMS and her involvement with other organizations.
“She is always taking care of those around her,” Floyd said.
Sisters Network Tupelo Chapter was the organization honored for 2009. It is the only chapter of the national African-American breast cancer organization in Mississippi.
“Founder Edna Ware wanted women to know breast cancer is real,” Floyd said in quoting current chapter president Norma Derring.

Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal