To the heroes of Sunflower County

By RODNEY HAWKINS GUEST COLUMNIST,

It’s a wonderful Wednesday night January 15, 2020, and after a blistering-boiling bubble bath minus the bubbles, based on a bargain brand bar of soap, I’m chillin in my boxers feasting on a balled-fisted beef smoked sausage sandwich, with a bowl of barbecue baked beans.

The baked beans were given to me by a girlfriend who said that they were leftovers from her last barbecue.

Based on the flavor and taste, I’m thinking they may have been leftovers from the last supper. 

With the recent storms and all their damages, I decided to write a few lines about the extraordinary heroes in my community. 

Back in 2008 at the Greenwood Walmart, I was blessed to join the late great B.B. King in a semi-shopping television interview.

While he was riding the shopping cart, I asked him why he loved Indianola and Sunflower County so much.

He turned to me and said that when he 9, he lost both his mother and grandmother. He said that he was alone and homeless.

He said “when you’re homeless, you depend on the mercy of the streets, and Indianola showed me nothing less than mercy.” 

He told me that Indianola and Sunflower County were so generous and kind to him that he would always feel a debt of gratitude. 

I too didn’t have a lot growing up, but what I did have were the concerns of the entire community, both black and white, and that made me the richest kid in town. 

With the recent weather crisis of last week, I was beyond humbled by the way many people came together to help their fellow man.

The Sunflower County Sheriff’s department, Highway Patrol, Energy, etc.. were truly superb.

However there were a few heroes that went beyond the call of duty and I would like to talk about four exceptional human beings.

First Mayor Torey Bell and wife Judge Lisa Bell delivered much needed blankets all over north Sunflower County. 

I’ve known both of them for over 35 years.

Judge Bell is a former in-law of mine. I remember her father Mr. Groves, one of the most respected and loved human-beings ever.

He was an awesome family man who genuinely loved and cared about his community and was always willing to help out. So to see Judge Bell’s leadership and compassion evokes memories and images of her father when I was younger.

He would be beyond proud of the woman that she’s become.

Then there was former Judge Stafford Shurden, who actually used farm equipment to help a few other citizens and city workers restore much needed running water to the citizens of Drew.

Pure Oxygen, Judge Shurden has contributed so much to his community and to the hero’s integrity in such an amazing way. 

I’ve known Stafford for over 20 years. He is a dear friend of mine, and I was a political advisor and consultant to his father the late great Judge AW “Bubba” Shurden. 

Judge AW Shurden was just a fantastic guy, high quality; first class, strong firm extremely passionate individual and I too know that he would be proud of his son Judge Stafford Shurden. 

Lastly, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to the power of the beard, that the power of the awesome bearded E-T editor Mr. Bryan Davis for going beyond the call of duty to bring the latest up close news. Thank you all including those who were not mentioned in the column.

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