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) -

They just leave her Happy Birthday banner on the wall at her home in Yazoo City nowadays, and simply write over the age every year. Last year they put a “5” over the “4”. This year the “5” has been changed to a “6.” One Hundred and Six years old.

Mrs. Leola Dillard grew up as the child of sharecroppers in Bentonia, born in 1912. Early on she discovered there is more to life than just being here. It has a purpose.

She says, “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.

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

Deacon, George Wilkerson remembers her from his childhood.

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

Her son Swayze and daughter Roxie sing her praises.

“She was a good mother. She believed in that education stuff,” said Swayze.

“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.”

And a 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 Ms. Dillard’s influence.

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

And Ms. 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 Ms. Dillard.

You have to HAVE a dream first. Ms. 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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