Natchez plays host to genealogy meeting

Published 12:27 am Wednesday, July 11, 2007

NATCHEZ — The Order of the First Families of Mississippi announced the winners of the Award of Meritorious Leadership in Mississippi History and Genealogy during the Spring General Assembly at the Carriage House in Natchez on Saturday, June 2.

The award was established in 1994 and is presented to persons who have made outstanding contribution to these endeavors through research, publications and historic preservation. The presentation was made by Award Chairman Thomas H. Bowen Jr. of Jackson.

The recipients for the Award of Meritorious Leadership for 2007 are Martha Price Leese and Grady Webster Leese of Vicksburg. They hold memberships in many historical and genealogical societies and were responsible for the publication of Volume 24 and contributed to the publication of other volumes for the Mississippi Genealogical Society. They also indexed all 24 volumes of the society’s publications. The Leeses also realized the importance of information from arrangement sheets from Glenwood Funeral Home of Vicksburg. They spent hours compiling this information into a form that would be easy for genealogical researchers to use. Soon they did the same with records from funeral homes in Port Gibson, Rolling Fork, Tallulah and Utica. These funeral homes serve a large rural area so these records are a marvelous resource for a large area of West Mississippi and East Louisiana.

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Several years ago Grady Leese climbed the clock tower of the old Vicksburg courthouse and museum to assess the needed repairs to put the clock back in working order. He was able to acquire the necessary parts and repair the clock so that it now has the correct time on all four sides and chimes on the hour.

Martha Leese is a ntaive of Claiborne County, a graduate of Port Gibson High School and a graduate of the Vicksburg Hospital School of Nursing earning a registered nursing degree. She retired from her profession in 1976.

Grady Leese is a native of Franklin County, a graduate of Vicksburg High School and Mississippi State University earning a degree in civil engineering. He retired in 1975 after 33 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He also served during World War II as a pilot on B-24 heavy bombers based in Italy. The Leeses have three children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.