Local residents remember White’s kindness

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 24, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; While the murder trial of Ernest Avants plays out in a federal courtroom in Jackson, people in Natchez who knew alleged victim Ben Chester White go about their daily lives &045; and remember White himself.

By their accounts White, who was killed in 1966, was a dependable, gentle man for whom his Christian faith was very important.

It has been many years since White’s death, but Jimmy Carter, on whose property White lived and worked, remembers two things in particular about the man.

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&uot;He took care of his mother,&uot; Carter said Monday, the same day the trial started in Jackson. &uot;And if you gave him something to take care of, he would take of it.&uot;

Evyone Lewis, who still works for Carter, also remembers White’s kindness &045; especially since she, with 12 children to raise, needed plenty of help.

&uot;He was always nice,&uot; said Lewis, who lived near White. &uot;He had a truck, and he’d go and get me a load of wood when I needed it.&uot;

Another area of life in which he was faithful was that of church activities, Lewis said.

&uot;Chess &045; that’s what everybody called him &045; used to go to church all the time,&uot; Lewis said. &uot;He was a good man.&uot;

Which made his death only harder for the community to take, Lewis said. After she heard the news of White’s death, she said, &uot;I felt sorrow. I was hurt. And I was scared, because I didn’t know what else was going to happen.&uot;

Natchez native Don Simonton was just a little small boy when White was alive, but remembers that the man they called &uot;Chess&uot; was &uot;he was sort of a cowboy.&uot;