Ball to honor 20 years of Mer royalty

Published 12:00am Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Special to The Democrat

NATCHEZ — The Krewe of Mer will pay tribute to past royalty of its organization with a trip down memory lane while celebrating and honoring their 2013 king and queen — William Fredrick Marsalis Jr. and Courtney Danielle Frazier-Yearby.

The krewe is celebrating its 20th anniversary and will recognize past royalty.

The krewe’s captain, Bettye M. Bell said the theme “Royal Affair” was chosen to symbolize a majestic evening in the city of Natchez.

The grand Mardi Gras ball will be at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Natchez Convention Center.

King William Fredrick Marsalis Jr. 

The 2012 king, Charles Groom, will relinquish his crown to William Fredrick Marsalis Jr.

Marsalis graduated from Vidalia High School with honors in 2004.

He lettered in football, basketball and baseball. Marsalis went on to attend Alcorn State University where he graduated in 2007 cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and played as a running back for the Alcorn Braves football program.

As an undergraduate, he worked extensively in the grants and contracts office of Alcorn State as a research student.

He completed his master’s degree in business administration degree in 2009 from the Alcorn State University School of Business in Natchez.

He is employed as an executive assistant manager for Walgreens.

Recently, Marsalis started his own initiative — “Mediocrity Doesn’t Pay” — which offers services such as mentoring, motivational speaking, athletic training, marketing, fundraising for community service projects and events planning/promotions.

He was initiated into Delta Kappa Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. in spring 2006 and is the immediate past president of the graduate chapter, Rho Epsilon Lambda. Marsalis was voted “brother of the year” and received the “outstanding community service award” from Rho Epsilon Lambda.

His interests include sports, shopping, traveling and mentoring.

He is the son of Fred and Dorothy Marsalis and has one sister, Tiffany Marsalis-Smith, who resides in Houston, Texas. He is a member of New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church.

Queen Courtney Danielle


Mer’s 2012 Queen Brenda Washington will present the 2013 queen, Courtney Danielle Frazier-Yearby, with the royal scepter.

Frazier-Yearby is married to Hannibal Yearby. She is the youngest daughter of the 1998 king and queen of Mer, Billie Joe Frazier and Shirley F. Frazier. She is the sister of Jarita Frazier-King, 2008 Queen of Mer.

Frazier-Yearby is a 1999 graduate of Natchez High School. While in high school she was selected as a candidate for the all-star dance team in Super Bowl XXXIII held in Miami. In 1999, Frazier-Yearby attended Jackson State University for one year, and then transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College where she received an associate degree in computer science.

She is employed by Walgreens Pharmacy as the senior pharmacy technician and plans to become a pharmacist in the future.

She is a member of Richland Baptist Church, where she serves on the usher board, NAACP and YPIA Society in Churchill.

Frazier-Yearby is the mother of two children, 12-year old Jada and 6-year old Keimon. She is also the special aunt to Gabrielle, Senia and Skylar.

In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, watching TV, meeting people at work, shopping and spending time with family and friends.

Captain Bettye Moore Bell

Bettye Moore Bell is a lifelong educator and entrepreneur.

She is the owner and executive director of B’ Moore & Associates LLC, an educational consulting company. In this position, she serves as managing consultant and an event planner for various organizations and school districts.

She founded and served as the executive director of Friends of Youth, a non-profit organization devoted to promoting academic and recreational enrichment activities for young people throughout the state of Mississippi.

With more than 30 years of educational experience, ranging from elementary to post-secondary education, Bell brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the educational community.

She has served as a secondary science teacher, assistant principal, principal, curriculum specialist, professional development coordinator, instructional improvement coordinator, grant writer and state evaluator for failing schools.

Bell has served urban, suburban, and rural school districts in the field of science and administrative leadership for the states of Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas.

Bell received a bachelor of science degree in education and a master of science degree in science education, both from Alcorn State University, and a specialist degree in educational leadership and administration from Mississippi College.

She is pursuing a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction at the University of Phoenix.

Bell is a member at New Beginnings Missionary Baptist Church. She is a member of the Zeta Delta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. She is the proud mother of son, Charoyd, and daughter, Brittany, and grandmother of Peyton Gabrielle and Andre Braylen.

Royal history

The krewe will honor former kings and queens this year and celebrate the changing of the monarchs with William Fredrick “Fred” Marsalis Sr., the krewe’s first king, extending grandeur to his first page and son, William Fredrick Marsalis Jr.

Fred Marsalis Sr.

Fred Marsalis Sr. was born in Pike County and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in McComb, Alcorn A&M College and Alcorn State University and completed further studies at Morris Brown College, Dillard University, University of Southern Mississippi, ULM and Northwestern.

He currently resides in Vidalia and is semi-retired.

He is a long-time educator.

He is a member of Rho Epsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. where he was recently recognized for 50 years of service.

He is married to Dorothy Alexander Marsalis and has two children, Tiffany and Fredrick Jr.

Margaret Bennett January

Margaret Bennett January was the first queen of Mer. She is the wife of Andrew January, mother of Andrea January Bonds and Marques January.

She is the daughter of Viola McQuarters Bennett and the late Walter Bennett and the proud grandmother of Alexes, Cody, Tyler and Taylor.

January attended Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi. She is employed with Natchez-Adams School District.

January is a founding and charter member of the krewe and has served as president and captain for several years.

Janet Green

Janet Green is a charter member of the Krewe of Mer and served as the second queen of Mer from 1993-1994 with the late Edward Green.

She also served as captain and worked on various krewe committees. Green graduated from Alcorn State University where she received a bachelor of science and master of science degrees in English. She is a retired English teacher from the Natchez-Adams School District and is a member of St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church.

Wilson E. Banford

The 1996 king was Wilson E. Banford. Wilson was born in Wilkinson County to the late George and Lucy Banford. He is a graduate of Sadie V. Thompson and has a bachelor of science from Jackson State University, a master’s of education from University of Southern Mississippi and a specialist degree from Jackson State University.

He is a retired from Armstrong Tire and Rubber Co., with 14.5 years as a safety engineer and 26 years in the Natchez-Adams School District as a teacher and administrator.

Wilson currently resides in Natchez and is married to Estelle M. Banford. He has one daughter, Rhonda Hatcher of Jackson and two granddaughters, Candace and Alexia.

Estelle Banford

Estelle Banford was born in Wilkinson County to the late Frank and Sally McQuarters. She is a graduate of St. Francis High School, and has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from Alcorn State University. She retired from Jefferson County School District in 1998 where she spent 29 years as an elementary school math teacher.

She is married to Wilson E. Banford and they currently reside in Natchez. She is the mother of Alderman Ricky Gray and Carlotta Gray. She has five grandchildren, Kennedy, Candi, Travis, LeRoy and Derrick.

Billie Joe Frazier

Billie Joe Frazier was the 1998 Krewe of Mer King and currently serves as a member-at-large.

He graduated from Sadie V. Thompson and then attended Jackson State University, majoring in criminal justice.

He served four years in the U.S. Navy; however, was honorably discharged. He retired from the Natchez Police Department with 32 years as lieutenant commander of the support division where he served as the jail administrator for 12 years.

He is married to Shirley Fitzgerald Frazier.

Shirley Frazier

Shirley Frazier was the Krewe of Mer 1998 queen. She graduated from North Natchez High School in 1973 and then in 1974 she graduated from Meadows-Draughon Business College as an automation secretary in New Orleans.

Further studies include Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Alcorn State University. Shirley retired from AT&T as a service order administrator in 2010 with 32 years of service.

George Smith Jr.

George Smith Jr. reigned as king in 1999. He graduated from Jackson State University with a bachelor of science and completed a bachelor of science in nursing from Alcorn State University.

George is employed at Jefferson County and Natchez Community hospitals.

Joyce Nell Griffin

Joyce Nell Griffin was the 1999 queen of Mer and reigned until 2001.

She received a bachelor of science in nursing from Alcorn State University where she as a president’s scholar.

She retired from the Natchez-Adams School District, as the nurse coordinator. She also has worked for 21 years at the Natchez Regional Medical Center.

She is married to Franklin Griffin.

Donnell Newsome

Donnell Newsome has been a member of the Krewe of Mer for 20 years and ruled as the king in 2003.

His educational background includes a bachelor of arts in economics and a master’s degree in education from Jackson State University.

His employment history includes work in occupational therapy for St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, teaching and coaching.

He is married to Thelma Newsome.

Thelma S. Newsome

Thelma S. Newsome ruled as the Krewe of Mer’s queen alongside her husband Donnell Newsome in 2003.

She currently serves as the krewe’s vice president and chairs the decorating committee. She graduated from Alcorn State University with a bachelor degree and graduated with a master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Her employment history consists of serving as a contractual consultant for the State of Mississippi Department of Education and teaching and administration in Natchez and Concordia Parish.

Arthur J. “A.J.” Reed

Arthur J. “A.J.” Reed was the 2004 king of Mer alongside Jacqueline Letcher.

He is married to Edna Ford Reed.

He is retired from NBC where he worked in radio then TV. For the last 20 years, he worked as a driver and audio tech for sports, football, baseball and NCAA sports.

His hobbies include golf, fishing, gardening, sports and spending time with his family.

Walter Sewell

Walter Sewell was the 2005 king and his sister Renne’ Sewell Carr was queen.

He is the owner of Sewell’s Automotive Painting. He is a member of the Wilderness Baptist Church and the Natchez Business and Civic League.

Nicole A. Bell

Nicole A. Bell was the 2006 queen. The 2006 king was Marques January.

Bell is employed at Alcorn State University with the Mississippi Small Farm Development Center.

She is the food safety and agribusiness specialist; however she is the former manager of the Alcorn State University Vegetable Processing Facility in Marks and has served in other positions at Alcorn for 13 years.

Bell has a bachelor of science degree in accounting and master of science in agricultural economics.

Jonathan Grennell

Jonathan Grennell, the 2007 king, retired from Johns Manville Corporation as a production supervisor and attends Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Natchez.

His hobbies and interests include spending time with his wife, Renza Johnson Grennell, and family, metal designs, gardening, music and cooking.

Renza J. Grennell

Renza J. Grennell is the wife of Jonathan Grennell and is a retired educator. She was queen in 2007.

She is a member of Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Natchez and many other civic organizations.

Her hobbies and interests include vegetable and flower gardening, sewing, music, dancing, cooking, being creative and spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.

Linton Fitzgerald III

Linton Fitzgerald III was the 2008 king.

He graduated from high school and has attended the University of Phoenix from 2007-2008 studying criminal justice.

Fitzgerald worked with Bouchard Transportation as the AB Deck Hand; however, he now is employed as a city letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Services in Jonesville.

He is married to LeSheva Jackson Fitzgerald and has three children.

Jarita Frazier King

Jarita Frazier King, queen in 2008, received an associate of applied science degree in surgical technology from Virginia College in Jackson in 2008.

She is currently pursuing a bachelor of science degree in technology management from Alcorn State University.

King is a U.S. Postal Service city letter carrier for Ferriday.

She is married to Roger King and has four daughters.

Karyn Green

Karyn Green is the daughter of Dorothea A. Mackel and the late Louis T. Mackel.

She has three daughters, Keyna S. Williams and husband Gerald K. Williams, Jordan A. Green and Jade A. Green; two stepdaughters, Tawana and Monique; two stepsons; five grandchildren and eight step-grandchildren.

She received an associate of applied science degree at the International Academy of Merchandise and Design in Chicago.

Ernest “Tony” Fields

Tony Fields is a native of Natchez and was king in 2010. He is the son of Ellen Earls and the late Ernest “Buster” Fields Jr. He is married to Eckwanise Butler of Natchez. They have three children Aniyah, Samya and Ernest “Lil Tony” Fields IV.

Tony is a 1994 graduate of Natchez High School. He received a bachelor of science degree in Music Education from Alcorn State University and a masters in educational leadership from Jackson State University.

Tony is a member of Zion Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church where he serves as minister of music. Tony serves his community as alderman of ward 4 of the City of Natchez. Tony is employed by the Natchez-Adams School District.

Adrell Wright

Adrell Wright, queen in 2010, was born in Adams County and is the daughter of Ella Mae Matthews and the late Foster M. Gorden.

She is married to Clifford D. Wright Sr. and together they have seven children, Latonya, Lakeisha, Nakeisha, NaQuithia, Clifford Jr. Datarrius and Cameron.

She attended Adams County Public School for three years.

Eddie Hargrave

Eddie Hargrave, king in 2011, graduated from Sadie V. Thompson and attended Natchez College.

He and his wife, Doris Noble Hargrave, are the owners and operators of Hargrave Rental and Hargrave Masonry.

He attends Jerusalem Baptist Church No. 1.

Doris Hargrave

Doris Hargrave, queen in 2011, graduated from North Natchez High School and attended Louisiana Business College.

She and her husband, Eddie Hargrave, are the owners and operators of Hargrave Rental and Hargrave Masonry.

Doris enjoys shopping, attending church service and planning family days and activities.

Charles Groom

Charles Groom is the 2012 king.

He attended St. Francis and graduated from Sadie V. Thompson in 1959.

He retired after serving 29 years in public service. His last position was with courier with the Adams County Board of Supervisors.

Groom is married to Pearl Harris Groom and is the father of seven children.

Brenda Washington

Brenda Washington is the 2012 queen.

She is the proud mother of Derrick and the late Lucius Washington. Washington graduated from L.W. Higgins High School in Westwego, La.

She also attended the University of New Orleans and Copiah-Lincoln Community College.