Thursday, November 4, 2010
Minor - ‘a great public servant’
By SUE WATSON
Across the state Monday morning people expressed shock as news spread of the death of Bill Minor, transportation commissioner for the northern district of Mississippi since 2003.
Minor, of Holly Springs, was rushed to the Biloxi Regional Hospital around 8 a.m. November 1 – where he was pronounced dead of an apparent heart attack at 9:15 a.m. He was on the coast attending a national transportation conference.
His passing was announced around 9:30 a.m. in the Marshall County Board of Supervisors meeting by a long-time childhood companion, Sheriff Kenny Dickerson, who attended Hickory Flat School with Minor and his brother Ray, and who all three played ball together.
Dickerson said Minor was “almost like a brother.”
“It is a tremendous shock and loss,” Dickerson said. “He is like a member of the family. His word was his bond, and if he told you he would do something, you could take it to the bank.”
Bill and Ray Minor were raised by extremely hard-working parents, the late Erline and Gene Minor, like the Dickerson children were raised.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Northern District Transportation Commissioner Bill Minor,” said Sen. Bill Stone of Ashland. “Commissioner Minor was a great public servant and will be sorely missed in Benton and Marshall counties, as well as the entire State of Mississippi.”
Supervisors took a moment to express their sympathies as well.
“It’s sad to hear about Bill, a good friend,” said Ronnie Joe Bennett. “I’ve known him all my life. He was a great asset to Marshall County and North Mississippi. I am going to miss him personally.”
Eddie Dixon said he is losing a “long-time friend.”
“He will be dearly missed,” said Dixon. “He was helping us on the Highway 72 four-laning project.”
Minor was both a business friend and a personal friend to chancery clerk Chuck Thomas. He enjoyed good personal business relations with Minor Brothers Hardware.
“They have never turned us down for any reason,” he said.
George Zinn III echoed Thomas’ remarks.
“I’ve known Bill for many, many years,” said Zinn. “We had worked for him. He proved himself to be truly dedicated to his job, always taking calls or returning calls. I will always remember him by his dedication. The service he provided for Marshall County will truly be missed.”
A long-time associate, Willie Flemon, said he had known the Minor brothers before they built their business and before Minor became an elected official.
“My deepest sympathy to his family,” said Flemon.
Zoning director Conway Moore, who said she has known both Bill Minor and his brother Ray since she was 10, remembered the friendly way the commissioner treated everyone.
“He would be talking to someone and he would make eye contact and he would raise his hand and wave,” she said. “This is a bad blow to our county as well as the other counties he represents. I hope we can find someone to fill his shoes.”
Gary Anderson, consultant to the board of supervisors, remarked about the way Minor has helped the region plan for infrastructure needs for the county and area.
“He helped bring the four-lane highway program of 1987, as senator,” Anderson said. “Mr. Minor has been a good leader of our state, both as a state senator and as a highway commissioner. Marshall County lost a very good friend.”
Mary Minor, a friend and former wife of the commissioner, patched together some history of Bill Minor as she remembered him.
Minor ran for chancery clerk and for state representative before he was elected to the Mississippi Senate in the late 1970s, where he served 20 years before running for the highway commissioner’s position.
Minor started out in business in Potts Camp in 1965 and moved his business to Holly Springs, then located his heating and air business out on Highway 7 North. The partners expanded Minor Brothers Hardware to Olive Branch and then to Hernando, but later sold the Hernando business.
“He started in plumbing and electric and then added appliances and then did heating and air in the Tri-State area (Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas),” she said.
He was born October 16, 1942, and just celebrated his 68th birthday.
On a personal note, the commissioner’s former wife spoke of his personal commitment to what he loved.
“Whatever he aspired to do, he put his whole self into it,” she said. “Whatever he believed in, he stood up for. He loved politics. I was always happy he was able to achieve his ambitions. He had a good nature about him.”
Minor, who had a prior stroke while serving as state senator, was a big Mississippi State fan, she said. He attended Hickory Flat School and Northwest Community College, then worked in a factory for a short time before he went into business for himself.
Minor has a half brother, Glen Bounds.
An avid ball player, Minor organized, managed and played on independent ball teams for several years after high school, playing teams in Memphis and in the cow pastures of Lamar, Mary Minor said.
“He loved his sports,” she said.
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