Prather, past governors honored for service, improving Mississippi

March 27, 2009



¬†JACKSON -- Former Chief Justice Lenore Prather, of Columbus, joined former Govs. William Winter and Bill Waller on Thursday to receive Mississippi Medals of Service from Gov. Haley Barbour. 


The state''s first female Supreme Court justice, Prather served on the high court from 1982 to 2001. 


"I worked to bring respect and honor to the judicial system and to try to make the system better for all of Mississippi," Prather said. 


Barbour on Thursday honored Prather, Winter, Waller and seven other Mississippians with the special new recognition the governor has inaugurated to commend people for their lifetimes of contributions to improving Mississippi. 


"These outstanding Mississippians have devoted countless hours and enormous amounts of their time, talents and energy to making Mississippi a better place to live, work and raise a family," Barbour said."They are shining examples of the things that make Mississippi such a special place." 


The Mississippi Medal of Service was also given to businessman Bobby Chain, of Hattiesburg, former Rep. Robert Clark, of Lexington, former University of Mississippi Medical Center chief executive Wallace Conerly, of Terry, businessman and former supervisor Lum Cumbest, of Jackson County, civil rights activist Charles Evers, of Jackson, and former Jackson State University president John Peoples, of Jackson. 


Winter appointed Prather to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1982 to become the state''s first female justice.¬† She became chief justice in 1998 and served until after being defeated for re-election in 2000. After leaving the court, Prather served as interim president of Mississippi University for Women, her alma mater. 


Peoples grew up in Starkville and went on to become JSU president serving from 1967 to 1984. 


On Thursday, he reminisced about growing up around Mississippi State University''s campus in Starkville not knowing his career would be in higher education. "I never thought I''d ever go to college," he said.