Mississippi Strong: Leola Dillard - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi Strong: Leola Dillard

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
YAZOO CITY, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A lady in Yazoo City has been living Mississippi Strong for 105 years!

Not only that, but she sees to it that people around her are reaching their potential, too. And if they don’t know they have a potential, see sees to it they find that out, too.

They just leave her Happy Birthday banner on the wall at her home in Yazoo City, and simply write over the age every year. Most recently, 104 years old superseded by 105 just a few days ago.

Mrs. Leola Dillard grew up as the child of sharecroppers in Bentonia, born in 1912. She’s seen a lot of changes in that course of that century, plus, early on she found a purpose for being here.

"And I learned a poem that I like to repeat it all the time. I learned it when I was a child," said Mrs. Dillard. "I hear the clock ticking as it sits up on the wall. Tick, tick, ticking time away from us all. As it ticks you dream dreams. That dream gets you nowhere unless you get up and do something about it."

She took those words to heart about having a dream and then doing something about it. And she has a wall of awards and photos to prove it. But better than that, she has a crowd of people she has influenced with the idea. Her Pastor Willie Richardson agrees.

"Even at the church now there’s a program going on where the kids get scholarships. Of course, she got that started," said Pastor Richardson.

Deacon, George Wilkerson remembers her from his childhood.

"She always had something for you to do. That’s for sure, said Deacon  Wilkerson.

Her son, Swayze and daughter Roxie sing her praises.

"She was a good mother. She believed in that education stuff," said Swayze Dillard.

"She about the best mother to be around. All these young children, all these kids going around doing everything, they need a mother like my mother," added Roxie Dillard.

And friend of the family, now just like another child, Barbara Tolliver, who met Ms. Dillard years ago when Barbara was the executive director of United Way in west central Mississippi sums up Mrs. Dillard’s influence.

"I don’t know where Yazoo City would be today if it was not for Mrs. Leola Dillard," said Barbara.

And Mrs. Dillard has a word for us, too, so we can live Mississippi Strong.

"Your dream will live on if you do something about it," said Dillard.

You have to have a dream first. Mrs. Dillard says that’s where we’ve let down the young people today. We’ve not impressed on them that life is all about having a dream and then making it happen.

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