Bob M. Dearing celebrated at Natchez State Park

Published 5:57 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ — Tears welled up in Daye Dearing’s eyes as she stepped up to a podium in front of a sign at Natchez State Park covered in a blue tarp. Her father Bob M. Dearing, who served Natchez as a state senator for 36 years, lobbied to get the state park built in north Adams County. 

Due to his efforts to create the state park and service to the community, his life was honored with the state park being renamed to Bob M. Dearing Natchez State Park through the passage of Senate Bill 2075 in 2021. Daye lifted up a blue tarp to reveal a beautiful sign bearing her fathers name as a crowd of people applauded. 

A procession of cars made their way back to the lake at Bob M. Dearing Natchez State Park for refreshments. Sounds of baby birds in the pavilion seeped into conversation. Daye said she was just grateful to know her father was being honored by so many. Bob Dearing died in July 2020. 

Email newsletter signup

“It is so humbling and an honor. I’m proud, happy and excited. I know my dad is happy and I know he is humbled, excited and proud. It is a really fulfilling day and it is joyous,” she said. “It is such an honor to see this park named after him. It is such a nice park. My wish is people will utilize it, use it and take advantage of it. We are so fortunate to have this. Not every part of the state has a state park.”

MDWFP Executive Director Lynn Posey gave the welcoming remarks for the occasion and announced the park was seeing several upgrades. One upgrade is the renovation of 10 cabins, an update Chief of Staff Brian Ferguson provided at the April Commission Meeting. Posey added they were working on upgrading parks across the state. 

Park Manager Neil Hayes said Natchez State Park’s cabins are currently gutted and will see a complete overhaul with modern appliances and a bar area in the kitchen. The patios will have a grill and a fire pit. He said work started on the cabin renovations on Presidents Day this February. 

Posey said there are additional plans to drain the lake and install an upgraded boat launch, bream beds and create nature trails across the park for people to hike.

Daye said she often comes to the park to relax and reconnect with herself by disconnecting from the world and technology. She said people don’t have to fish, hike or hunt to enjoy the state park, simply being out in nature is enough. 

While they were getting set up for the event, three campers drove by with Maine tags, Daye said. She also occasionally checks in on the RV Pads because her father always checked in on them. Hayes told her last month some people from Canada had stopped at the RV pads. 

Her father was a good fisherman, she said. Posey, who served with Bob M. Dearing in the Mississippi State Senate, had told a joke about Bob M. Dearing not being a good fisherman despite the great lake at the park. Daye Dearing said he would take her fishing when she was about four or six. Posey had several kind words to say on behalf of his friend Bob M. Dearing. 

“He was a great American and Natchezian,” Posey said. “He served with honesty and respect. He felt honor and took responsibility in serving his district. He formed lasting relationships and I was one of them. I could call him my friend. I was privileged to serve on the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committee with him and he made sure we got things done.” 

State Senator Dean Kirby followed Posey’s remarks with some personal stories about Bob. He first noted Bob was a public servant who was always trying to help everyone he could even if the people lived outside of his district.

One of the ways he served his district was by being very involved in the legislative process. Kirby said Bob M. Dearing would read every bill and learn about everything going on in the legislature. 

“He was really good at it. He had a nickname, it was ‘Pop Up’ Bob,” Kirby said. “He was a student of legislation and asked a lot of questions. When he ran again and won I told him I was happy to have ‘Pop Up’ Bob back. He didn’t know it was his nickname. He asked a lot of questions and wanted to always do the right thing and never wavered in his beliefs.” 

Bob M. Dearing had plans to add a golf course to Natchez State Park but the state did not have any money. One of his plans to do so included Winding Creek, formerly located between the state park and Natchez, Daye Dearing said. It never came to fruition. 

His friends Bucky Colebank and Simmons Hicks said Dearing helped run a golf tournament every year called the Gulf States Oil and Gas Invitational. 

“He was a great friend and we were involved with his tournament each year,” Hicks said. “He is missed and will always be missed.”