On the desk in my office on the Raymond Campus is one piece of college memorabilia that is not “Hinds.” It’s a gorgeous glass candy dish – red, white and blue with the M in the middle for Ole Miss.
It’s the only “other college” piece that I allow myself in my office. The reason it’s on my desk is I got it a couple years ago from Peggy Brent, the long-time chair of the English department.
Mrs. Brent, a mainstay of Hinds Community College who had been working here since September 1962, died Jan. 12. Her funeral was Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 16, at Cain-Cochran Hall on the Raymond Campus.
Mrs. Brent founded Mississippi and the Arts Week here in 1983 and has been the driving force behind it. She along with a committee of folks have organized, scheduled and cajoled scores of artists, writers and otherwise interesting people to come to Raymond for demonstrations and talks to our students and employees the last week of March.
She gave the glass candy dish to me and another to PR writer Lauren Cook as “thank yous” for doing our jobs in publicizing Arts Week activities.
I don’t expect gifts for doing my job, but getting one from Mrs. Brent was definitely appreciated. For one thing, she took the time to find out that both Lauren and I were Ole Miss grads so we knew the gift was personal.
Mrs. Brent was one of a kind, for sure. She was very passionate about Arts Week as well as the two-day Kaleidoscope cultural festival she founded in 1999 that spotlights a different country each year. After an enormous amount of work, she was able to get Oxford’s Thacker Mountain Radio to do a broadcast to kick off the Arts Week last year. She was working furiously to get it back again for this year’s edition.
I hope the rest of the committee can pick up where she left off. I know it’s a cliché to say someone leaves big shoes to fill but that is certainly the case with Mrs. Brent. She left a great legacy of passion for teaching and the arts.
We’ll miss her.