By Bill Minor
JACKSON – At the remarkable age of 102, Anice Temple, whose journalist life intersected my own – though two decades apart – died last week in her sleep at her apartment in Madison County, doggedly independent to the end.
Our careers were brought together by The (N.O.) Times-Picayune in New Orleans in whose employ she spent 28 years of her life and I, 31 years. But it was in the latter 1930s where Anice as the T-P’s young peoples’ editor, coincidentally, put me on my lifetime course as a journalist.
In those years, she administered the newspaper’s “Biggest News” program for high school students in Louisiana and Mississippi.
In my senior year, Bogalusa’s team won the Biggest News cup two semesters running and I was the high point man. Winning essays – first, second and third –would be printed each week in the paper (with $10, $7.50 and $5 as prizes, a lot of money to us Depression kids). Anice came up to Bogalusa with Managing Editor
George W. Healy Jr. to present the Biggest news cup. Unimaginable then, a few years later when I was at Tulane working on my degree in journalism and a naval officer’s commission Healy promised me that when I came back from World War II, he would have a job waiting for me.
(Healy, my longtime editor, was a Natchez native and yell leader at Ole Miss in the late 1920s. He became the backroom bridge partner of William Faulkner during Faulkner’s ill-fated tenure running the University’s U.S. Post Office, fired because he wouldn’t serve stamp buyers.)
But back to Anice Temple. While I and a number of other soon-to-be T-P staffers were off at war, Anice put aside her young people editing and did yeoman duty as reporter/photographer for the paper. Meantime, she had married Keith Temple, an Australian intellectual and artist who landed in New Orleans and hooked on as T-P’s editorial page cartoonist. His editorial cartoons struck me as off-the-point amid Louisiana’s political chicanery, but his British accent charmed the ownership so he had job security. Since the Temples had no children, Keith and his landscape paintings were the center of her life.
After they took retirement from the paper in the latter 1970s, Anice and Keith moved near her relatives in Hattiesburg until Keith died in 1980. Of note, Anice was a native of Houlka, who won a degree from Mississippi State College for Women and edited the student newspaper before serving a stint on the old Jackson Daily News in the early 1930s. She joined the T-P in 1933.
With Keith gone, Anice moved from Hattiesburg to Columbia to join some other distant relatives.
All the while in Columbia, Anice insisted on driving her pickup truck – which she did until age 92 – to Jackson much to my chagrin as a friend, as well as her closest relative, her devoted niece Marilyn Moore (Mrs. Overton Moore) of Jackson. Marilyn finally persuaded Anice to take an apartment in Ridgeland and get some help. Regularly, Anice would drop me a note supportive of my column. When last I saw her at her 100th birthday party, Anice’s mind was still sharp and she was interested in current affairs.
Honoring the decision she and Keith made years ago, Anice requested no funeral ceremony and donated her body to medical science.
Columnist BILL MINOR has covered Mississippi politics since 1947. Contact him through Ed Inman at email@example.com.