E. S. BISHOP, Sr.
The Daily Corinthian, Tues., April 2, 1996: p.1, c. 1-6 - Former Corinth Mayor Bishop dies 88-year-old city official, educator remembered for leadership ability ---------------- BY TOM WILEMON Staff Writer ---------------- His leadership bridged generations and earned Corinth national respect. E.S. Bishop made a name for himself in history through service to others. The 88-year-old former mayor and educator passed away Monday night at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. He will be remembered for progressive leadership that was given with methodical thought and a gentleman's civility. Bishop had been in bad health in recent months, but his mind remained sharp as he kept abreast of Corinth happenings. "Mayor (Jerry) Latch, Malcom Guyton and I visited him Friday," said city planner Alton Thompson. "He wanted to know all about the city and what was going on. He talked real well and we spent about 15 minutes with him. He was still trying to stay involved." The son of a store clerk who grew up in Starkville, Bishop put himself through college working as a waiter at the old Edwards Hotel in Jackson. He came to Corinth in 1935 to be principal of Scale Street School. He became a leader long before he ever ran for public office the first time in 1969. The grandson of a slave, Bishop was credited for helping to bring peaceful integration of black and white schools in Corinth. He also recognized the potential of Urban Renewal when it was a new federal program and helped to bring millions of dollars in federal funds to town in the 1960s. "I think the federal government is sincere in trying to help us find a common ground on which we can resolve racial problems, " Bishop was quoted as saying in a 1966 book called "Corinth, Mississippi: City in Transition." "And we've worked within its guidelines. People here are gradually reaching a consensus as to what must be done to solve the problem and there is decided progress in practically every area. Job opportunities are increasing, people are being promoted on the basis of their abilities, people are being admitted to public places here without regard to race. Private businesses and motels are beginning to say 'Come in.' In our industrial park they are employing and upgrading people as fast as they can prove they can do the work. In education, there are various evidences of progress. I think Corinth has pioneered the need for a more conscientious effort to abide by the Civil Rights laws and better relations and it was through the federal programs that the city was awakened to these facts." Stepping out on the forefront of an issue exposed him, like any true leader, to criticism. "If my efforts to bring about progress and harmony make me an Uncle Tom to some of our more militant citizens, who expect a revolution to succeed overnight, then they'll just have to go on thinking so," he said in the 1966 publication. After retiring from a career as an educator, he became the director of the Alcorn County Human Resource Agency. There he worked with well-known television personality and Corinth native Buddy Bain. "Professor Bishop in my opinion will go down in history as a great humanitarian and a lover of all people," Bain said. "Working under him as a director was a pleasure. His advice to me was just like a father's. Corinth, Miss., is now a better city because of his leadership as mayor." A family man, Bishop and his wife, Eva, reared children who have gone on to successful careers and positions of leadership. He ran for public office in 1969 and was soundly defeated, running for alderman on an at-large basis. Not one to give up, he tried again in the next election and won by a definitive margin. He was never challenged again for the alderman's post. In a 1989, Bishop assumed the duties of mayor following the resignation of Jack Holt. Four years later, he was elected to a full term in a town that is predominantly white. Past 80, he successfully kept his age from being a campaign issue by joking about it. In a 1994 interview with The Daily Corinthian, Bishop listed accomplishments of mayor he was particularly proud of. They included the expansion of Corinth's retail base, proceeding with annexation plans, better cooperation with county officials and a greatly improved airport. City clerk Jim Billingsley, who worked with Bishop for some 30 years, said, "What the man accomplished is almost unbelievable." The honors he has received for his public service are numerous. The senior citizen center on Washington Street is named in his honor. He was a recipient of the Corinth Junior Auxiliary's Citizen of the Year Award. He has received honorary degrees, and his leadership has been chronicled by national media. "I always wished that my mother and father had been living to see what happened," he once said. "To them it would have been a miracle." Funeral arrangements for the former mayor are incomplete. The Daily Corinthian, Weds., April 3, 1996: p. 4a, c. 5 - DEATHS ------ E.S.Bishop, Sr., 88 Professor Edward Simon Bishop, Sr., 88, died Monday, April 1, 1996, at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday with burial in Forrest Hills Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at St. Mark. Grayson's Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. The Daily Corinthian, Thu., April 4, 1996: p. 4, c. 5 - OBITUARIES E.S.Bishop Sr., 88 Funeral services for Edward Simon Bishop, Sr., 88, will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Corinth High School Academic and Performing Arts Center auditorium on Harper Road. The Rev. Dannie Walker will officiate. Burial will be in Forest Hill Cemetery. Grayson's Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Mr. Bishop died Monday, April 1, 1996, at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. He was born in Starkville. He was a retired principal of Scales Street and Easom High schools in Corinth. He served as City Alderman from 1970 to 1988 when he became Mayor of the City of Corinth, a position he held until November 1994. Mr. Bishop was executive director of the Alcorn County Human Resource Agency, State Director of the Council on Children, Founder and Executive Director of the Alcorn County Self-Helf Housing Program. He held numerous other positions in the city and had many achievements during over 60 years of dedicated public service. He is survived by his wife, Eva Hunter Bishop of Corinth; a daughter, Gwendolyn Chambliss of Jackson; three sons, Edward S. Bishop, Jr., and Beverly V. Bishop, both of Jackson and Dr. Harold L. Bishop of Tuscaloosa, Ala.; 14 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 tonight at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church, located at 1000 Scott Street. The body will be placed in the auditorium two hours before services for viewing and will not be re-opened after the eulogy. Memorials may be made to E.S.Bishop Senior Citizens Center or Northeast Mississippi Emergency Shelter for Children. An E.S. Bishop Scholarship Fund will be established at Jackson State University, Jackson State, Mississippi. The Daily Corinthian, Fri., April 5, 1996: p. 6a, c. 1-2 - OUR VIEW [Editorial] ---------------------- E. S. BISHOP: A GREAT MAN Alcorn County buried one of its treasures today. Corinth mourns the loss of a great leader, Edward S. Bishop Sr., whose funeral services were held at 1 p.m Bishop died Monday at the North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo. He had been battling poor health the past year. He was 88. Few can match this man's career 60 years in public service. Some of the most noted positions were principal of Scale Street and Easom High Schools in Corinth. He was executive director of the Alcorn County Human Resource Agency, state director of the Council on Children, founder and executive director of the Alcorn County Self-Help Housing Program. He served as city alderman from to 1988 before he became mayor, a position he held until November, 1994. Bishop was honored by many organizations throughout his career. He was an out standing citizen with the community at heart. Luckily, Bishop got all of the awards while he was alive so many organizations had an opportunity to thank him personally for what he had accomplished. Even a senior citizens center in Corinth already bears his name. E.S. Bishop could not only visualize where this community should be go he continued to keep us on a path to get us there. His work inspired others. His example and the leadership role he performed is one which should motivate others to community service. As mayor his ability to build consensus among many diverse groups and individuals toward what a progressive community should be is a legacy we hope is not lost. At this gentleman's funeral today, friends family and community leaders gathered to say kind words about this man, known affectionately as "Prof." Due to the huge crowd expected, the former educator's funeral was held in the auditorium at Corinth High School. It's as if we can still hear him: "I would like to take a moment to express my sincere appreciation to you, or each of you, for the most timely and substantive messages, gifts and words of support provided me during recent months. Eva and I often reminisce about the wonderful experiences that we have shared with each of you. "All of you are representative of the Bible verse that states, 'all good gifts and all perfect gifts come from above.' We sincerely feel that you are good and perfect gifts. Your encouragement serves as a motivational incentive for us to work toward an improvement in our health. "Let me assure you that illness prevents my active participation in the many activities with which I have been associated as a citizen. Even though my future participation will be somewhat limited due to health reasons, I shall give it my best." Yes, Professor Bishop, you gave it your best. Even near the end, you were encouraging others. Our community is a better place as a result of your lifelong efforts. You were a treasure, of which the riches will linger for many generations to come ... The Daily Corinthian The Daily Corinthian, Corinth, MS, Mon, April 8, 1996: p. 1, c. 2-5 - HUGE CROWD TURNS OUT TO HONOR LEADER BY TOM WILEMON Staff Writer ------------------- Like the man being remembered, the funeral for E.S. Bishop Sr. crossed racial lines. Gifted coloratura, Idotha Morrison, led the traditional black gospel music, including a soaring solo of "His Eye on the Sparrow." Buddy and Kay Bain led in the final song as all voices joined together in "How Great Thou Art." A crowd estimated at 600 packed the Corinth High School gym. They came from all over the state and country. U.S. Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Ga., read a letter of condolence written by President Clinton to Mrs. Eva Bishop. E.S. Bishop achieved a great deal personally, but it took time and patience. He came to Corinth not registered to vote. He left Corinth as Mississippi's only mayor ever elected in a white majority town. One of the speakers, Thurston Little, said Bishop was not registered to vote when he came to Corinth. Former Circuit Clerk Rubel Phillips encouraged him to sign up. When he went to the polls that first time, Little said Bishop was told, "What are you doing up here?" Phillips then accompanied Bishop to the polls where he was allowed to vote. "Isn't this embarrassing to us today that this man had go to through this," Little asked the audience. He praised Bishop for having the wisdom of King Solomon and the patience of Job. Mayor Jerry Latch said Bishop had proven that one person could make a difference. Longtime friend and fellow St. Mark Baptist Church Deacon Walter Fry said he was amazed at how one person could provide so many services to so many people and do it effectively. Rosemary Williams told how Bishop traveled to Utah, California and Washington D.C. to bring economic development to Corinth. "His thinking was always logical and as he would say, diligent," Williams said. "He was always a gentleman and a dignified person." Dr. O. Wayne Gann, superintendent of education for the Corinth School District, said Bishop helped make it an outstanding school system. He remembered a visit Bishop made to a kindergarten class when he was mayor. "He never stood so tall as when he stooped down and took the hand of a small child and treated him with the same respect as if he was Bill Clinton, George Bush or anyone else," Gann said. Dr. John A. Peoples, professor emeritus of Jackson State University, and Mrs. Melvene Coney, president of the university's national alumni association, told how he had made the institution a better place to learn. His son, Dr. Harold L. Bishop, followed his father's footsteps to become an educator. "The greatest tribute to a daddy is when you're in a crisis is to say, 'What would Daddy do?'" The deep timbre of the former mayor's voice echoed in the words of son. "Corinth, Miss., is a kinder, gentler place," Dr. Bishop said. "You did that for this family. I would like for you to continue that because this is indeed a unique community." He quoted a phrase from Grantland Rice: "When the one Great Scorer comes to write against your name, he marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game." "You played a great game. Thanks, Dad," he said The eulogy was delivered by Rev. Dannie Walker, pastor of St. Mark Baptist Church. He noted Jesus Christ was the guiding influence throughout Bishop's life. "In Christ, to die is to gain," Walker said, in concluding the funeral which was held on Good Friday. =================================================================== PERSONAL REFLECTIONS April 3, 1996 The above picture is my personal favorite of Professor Bishop which I would like to share along with my recollections of the man himself. When I was growing up in the South in the 1940's and 1950's, questioning the system was not part of the educational process. Things were the way they were, socially and racially and accepted without public question by the majority of whites and blacks alike. I was later to find that many things of a historical and educational nature were just not taught because of questions which they would raise about that very system. On my frequent trips to the old post office on Cruise Street for my father, I often saw Professor Bishop as he was picking up his mail for the school. He was always a friendly man, full of spirit and good cheer. As I grew up and came to know him, we always exchanged greetings. I came to know him as Professor Bishop and remember questioning in my mind why this black man was the exception to the rule as far as the social custom of the time which restricted the title of "Mr." to whites only. As I grew older, I found that his title was a universal sign of respect from the white community which was forced to find an exception for this exceptional man. This man and this exception to the rule was my first awakening to the realization that there was no correlation between the color of a man's skin and the character of the man within. Later in life, Professor Bishop became Alderman then Mayor Bishop and was recognized for many other aspects of leadership. I never found the other titles as comfortable for him as "Professor", which was by far a much greater honor than any office he ever held. Which brings me to the picture. It was taken a few years back, during Professor Bishop's term as Mayor, when he presided at the dedication of the newly remodeled historic railroad depot in Corinth. Mayor Bishop was always a strong and vocal supporter of historic preservation and all aspects of local history. He was in good spirits and made quite a few eloquent remarks, as he was prone to do whenever given the opportunity and a responsive audience. He related the time he first arrived in Corinth at that very depot and stepped off the train. As I took the picture, I couldn't help but be struck by the irony and contrast in times between his first arrival and that day. Needless to say, when he first arrived in Corinth, he wouldn't have been allowed in the room where I took the picture. Milton Sandy, Jr. cor02