Carter remembers ‘Chess’ as private person

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 28, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Bonnie Carter never knew much about the private man people in her community called &uot;Chess&uot; &045; but she remembers him well.

Bonnie Carter is the daughter of Jimmy Carter, the man on whose property Ben Chester White lived and worked until the day White died.

In a close-knit community of farmers who lived off Liberty Road, just past Sandy Creek, White was known as being a quiet man &045; but not in an unfriendly or mean way, Bonnie Carter said.

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&uot;He was just a very private person. He didn’t socialize with people, black or white,&uot; she said.

She knew only that White, whose mother had also worked on Jimmy Carter’s place all her life, was intensely loyal to his employer and was a very meticulous person. &uot;He always kept his tools extremely clean, and they were always in bundles,&uot; she said.

She also said that one of the few people White talked with much was her father.

&uot;They were close &045; they had been kids together,&uot; said Bonnie Carter, who now lives in Madison. &uot;I knew it was really going to kill my father.&uot;

The &uot;it&uot; to which Bonnie Carter was referring was White’s death in 1966. She was already in her mid-20s and an instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg when she got the call that White’s body had been found.

The Carter family first noticed White’s absence because he was supposed to drive another of Carter’s workers to their house. He never made that trip, &uot;but they figured he just had something else he had to do,&uot; Bonnie Carter said.

But when it was discovered that White’s truck never left his house, Jimmy Carter became worried and called the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, which began to search for White.

Jimmy Carter was in the deputy’s car when they heard the news that White’s body had been found in the Homochitto National Forest.

When Bonnie Carter received the call about White’s death, &uot;I felt outrage. I wanted to know who did it.&uot;

Still, she remembers wondering why such a thing would have taken place, since &uot;he (White) wasn’t a political person.&uot;