A Day for Mom: Starkville leaders reflect on Mother's Day

Nelle Cohen and her mother, Dianne Baker
Staff Writer

Prominent community leaders spent this week reflecting on their own mothers heading into Mother's Day.

Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO and President Scott Maynard said the most important lesson he learned from his mother, Margie, is to be kind to everyone and to do good, a lesson he hopes he passed down to his children.

Debra Prince, Starkville Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustee member, said the one quality she admires most about her mother Jackie Lindsey is her selflessness.

"For my entire life to this very day, my mother has always put her children and now grand and great grandchildren first," Prince said. "Regardless of what's going on, it's not about her. It's about looking out for her family and always being there for them regardless of what the circumstances may be. As a mother, I want to always display her unselfish lifestyle and follow her example of displaying unconditional love to my children Edward, Lauren, Lezli and Tramon."

District 38 State Rep. Cheikh Taylor said, as a child, it was hard for him to understand why his mother Helen Taylor took so much time helping others.

"As a kid it’s hard to share your mom, but one day she told me that helping others and showing compassion is never about self gratification but understanding that one day someone will show that same compassion to your child," Taylor said. "Looking at how my community responded to me with such a great deal of support, I have to say, Mom you were right."

Nelle Cohen said her mother Dianne Baker's curiosity about the world and her ability to live by her own rules is something she most admires about her, and a quality she hopes to pass down to her own daughters.

"She has a tremendous passion for reading and learning new things, and this passion has never waned," Nelle said. "She's a devoted world adventurer too. My mother has traveled to all but one continent —Australia—and she plans to hit that this summer. Her curiosity, love of learning, respect for all people and sense of adventure are all things I've tried to carry forth in parenting my own daughters.”

Cohen said one of the earliest memories of her mother was going with her to Samford University to register for classes when she was three years old.

“She put her education on hold to marry my father when she was 19,” Cohen said. “She decided after my sister Alice was born to finish her degree.”

Prince said one memory from childhood that stands out, other than being the child that stayed in trouble all the time, was the first time she says the "mother bear" came out of her mother.

"She had taken me and my older sister Gail to the Forum in Los Angeles to see the Jackson 5" Prince said. "During the concert, a group of teenagers that we did not know started smoking something they should not have been smoking."

Prince said her mother was having none of it.

"She told them they would either put it out or leave because they were not going to do that around her children," Prince said. "From that night on, I always saw my mother as my protector, my super hero."

Maynard said the funniest thing he ever got in trouble for by his mother was the result of shooting fireworks one evening.

"We came inside to watch TV, and about 10 minutes later, Mom looks out the kitchen window and screams ‘Fire!'" Maynard said. "Apparently one misguided bottle rocket found its way into the neighbor's yard. He was a good sport, but about one-third of his grass was gone. I kept hearing smoky bear over and over in my head saying, 'Only you can prevent wild fires.'"

Cohen said her funniest memory left her with a lesson in driving and life.

"When I was 14, I tried to take her beloved 1970 MGB for a spin without her permission," Cohen said. "I learned that first gear and reverse are not that far apart. Good lesson for life."

Prince said even if she had an unlimited budget, a Mother's Day gift her mother deserves would be priceless.

"I guess with much thought and an unlimited budget, I would provide and all-expenses-paid trip to Starkville for all her relatives," Prince said. "Each evening that week would consist of a family reunion banquet featuring her favorite meals and musical entertainment with Lauren and Lezli opening up for her favorite singer, Mavis Staples, her favorite singer. And since budget is unlimited, I would also arrange one or two Gladys Knight performances."

Taylor said if he had an unlimited budget, he would purchase a new building for his mother's Brickfire after-school program.