Community holds “drive-by” tribute for Justice Lenore Loving Prather

LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) — Saturday, a community said goodbye to the West Point native and the first female Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice.

Lenore Loving Prather was a trailblazer in the Golden Triangle and throughout the state.

Columbus is where Prather called home and she died at her Lowndes County home.

Her daughter, Melina Prather Johnson, said she is thankful for the community coming together.

“It means a lot to us because we were unable to have a visitation and have people come by and offer condolences and tell us stories and tell us funny things that mother did or said or things that she did that were impactful in their life,” said Johnson.

Prather was well known for her work on the bench. She was first appointed as a municipal court judge in West Point back in 1965. She was appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1982 and became the first female Chief Justice in 1998.

She also served as interim President of her alma mater, Mississippi University for Women, in the early 2000s.

The community she served for so long was at the Lowndes County Courthouse on Saturday with a drive-by service.

“We had Boy Scouts here and the Fire Department and representatives from Mississippi University for Women and it was just a lovely tribute to her, we do appreciate it,” said Johnson.

The tributes came from a wide array of people.

“Actually, it was an honor for Columbus fireman and rescue to be able to participate in this memorial for the service for Judge,” said Duane Hughes, the Assistant Fire Chief of Columbus.

“She was one of a kind and she could not necessarily be defined just by her gender as being a first but she was a first in so many other ways. Her compassion, her clarity, and understanding of the law was actually what she is remembered for today,” said Hughes.

The COVID- 19 pandemic could not stop people from honoring a legendary woman, who leaves behind a lifetime of service and who opened doors for others.

“Well everyone is cognitive of the time we are in and social distancing and being aware of the COVID threat, but we have to put that aside when we have such a giant among us who has passed but we want to let the community know that she is held in high regard and in our memory and by getting out and by participating in the service I think we’ve done that today,” said Hughes.

If you would like to pay your respects, there is a memorial on display outside at the courthouse.

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