Thursday, October 10, 2013
Parks dedicated to Henley, Sims
By SUE WATSON
Dedication of two city parks took place Thursday morning of last week.
The park at College and West Boundary was dedicated to former Holly Springs educator and alderman William Henley Sr. The park on West Valley Street, opposite the Holly Springs Intermediate School, was dedicated in honor of the late educator W.T. Sims.
Members of two administrations of the mayor and board of aldermen were on hand to help dedicate the parks. The former administration voted prior to leaving office to make the dedications.
Russell Johnson, former alderman of three terms in the city, praised Henley for his interest in the park.
“He always was the caretaker of the park and would make sure the lights are on and turned off and the park kept clean,” Johnson said. “He assumed responsibility for the park and became a fixture in this community.”
Former mayor Andre’ DeBerry said it is fitting to give people their flowers while they live.
“It is a small token – one that will live when all of us are gone – of what he (Henley) has meant to Ward II and the city,” he said. “Thank you for all that you have done.”
Current Ward II alderman Sharon Gipson enjoyed praising Henley for his example.
“It is indeed a blessing to see you this afternoon,” she said.
She pointed out the many relatives of the Henleys and friends and former students.
Henley, who attended school with Gipson’s parents, is also a veteran and member of the American Legion.
Gipson said Henley taught special programs at MI College. She said she takes pride in public service for Ward II the way Henley did.
Mae Henley spoke words of appreciation on behalf of her husband.
“I really appreciate the aldermen and the City of Holly Springs and our mayor,” she said.
“We will not forget. My husband, your ex-official, has a value put in him in his own family.
“He used to say, have a value of a 3-cent stamp. It will carry you many places. Do you, Holly Springs, have the value of a 3-cent stamp? Let’s follow him (Henley) and put the same value in this city.”
Roger Henley, holding his nephew, thanked the city on behalf of his family. He said every mayor of the city had played in the park.
Dorothy Wilkins Hibbler, formerly of Como, said Henley taught her science.
“We loved him, but we were scared of him,” she quipped. “He was smart and no nonsense. He coached basketball and he told me to be a cheerleader because I couldn’t play ball.”
William Henley Sr. was recognized by the Mississippi Legislature for outstanding service to the community of Holly Springs in 2004.
He was born June 9, 1928, in West Point to Rhodie Henley and John Blake.
Henley has over 40 years teaching experience at Ashland High School, Rust College, Mississippi Industrial College and Holly Springs High School.
He was nominated in 1989 for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics teaching.
He served as alderman of Ward II in Holly Springs for 12 years.
Henley was active in the civil rights movement while attending Tennessee State University and joined CORE, where he helped plan the “Freedom Rider Movement”
After returning home from Tennessee State, he and six other community leaders formed the Marshall County Citizens for Progress, which later became known as the United League.
Relatives present for the Henley Park dedication included Marlette Reynolds, Ruby, Rodrick and William Henley Jr., Calverta, Jimisha and Jimmy McMorris Sr., Angela and Antwan Taylor Jr., and Trinette and Martavion Johnson.
City clerk Belinda McDonald was on hand to help unveil the sign honoring her great-uncle, William Thomas (W.T.) Sims, a former teacher and principal in Holly Springs.
McDonald said she is proud to be a part of her ancestor’s legacy. W.T. Sims was the uncle of Robert Lee Sims, her father who served on the Marshall County Board of Supervisors.
Professor W.T. Sims was born in 1887 to the late Allen Adolphus and Josephine Sims and died in 1957. He was married to the late Myrtle Rankin Phillips and they had one son, William James Sims.
Professor Sims graduated from Mississippi Industrial College and served as principal in Ripley and later in Holly Springs at Rosenwald and W.T. Sims High School, named in his honor (which is presently Holly Springs Intermediate School).
Sims is buried in Yarbrough Chapel CME Church Cemetery on old Highway 4 West. His portrait hangs in the Ida B. Wells Barnett Museum.
Former mayor DeBerry, who once lived next to the Rosenwald School on W. Valley Avenue, said former mayor, the late Eddie Lee Smith, lived in the house next door.
DeBerry said the Rosenwald School was torn down after the Sims School was built. Later the Frazier wings were added to the Sims school and a gym was built in 1965.
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