Hinds Community College has been fortunate to have the support of some fine folks over the years. Over the last few weeks, two stellar men who were former members of the college’s Board of Trustees have passed away while another is leaving the public life.
U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who is resigning as of April 1, has close ties to the college. His deceased parents, W.H. and Emma Grace Cochran, were such staunch Hinds supporters that they were named among the 100 People Passionate about Hinds Community College last year during the celebration of the Centennial.
W.H. Cochran was a member of the Hinds Board of Trustees when he became superintendent of Hinds County schools in 1971. In 1983 they were the first couple to jointly earn the Hinds Alumnus of the Year award. After Cain Hall burned in 1998 and was rebuilt, it was renamed Cain-Cochran Hall in honor of W.H. and Emma Grace Cochran.
As U.S. senator, Cochran supported education. I made a couple trips to Washington on behalf of Hinds programs over the years, and both times Sen. Cochran graciously met with us. He also visited the Raymond Campus a few years ago, speaking to students and employees. Soft-spoken and gentlemanly, he was always a pleasure to meet with.
Sen. Cochran, far right, and Sen. Roger Wicker, far left, met with a group of Hinds students and employees in Washington.
In my former life as an education reporter for The Clarion-Ledger, I got to know two other men – Talmadge Portis and Dr. Mike Vinson. Portis passed away on Feb. 1; Vinson, on Feb. 24.
Portis was a member of the state Board of Education as well as the Hinds Board of Trustees. A long-time education supporter, his particular passion was workforce training. When I came to Hinds in January 2007 I found his familiar face comforting.
Dr. Vinson was superintendent of Rankin County schools where my children and now one of my granddaughters attends school. As an education reporter, I saw him as one of my go-to sources – credible, reliable and he always called me back.
Dr. Vinson was also named among the 100 People Passionate about Hinds Community College, and I last saw him a few months ago at one of the events in their honor. Before then, I had not seen him in some time. I’m grateful I got a chance for one more hug.
Above at left, Talmadge Portis with Sen. Cochran during a trip to Washington. At right, Dr. Mike Vinson at the event honoring 100 People Passionate about Hinds Community College.
Below, Portis at the opening of Fountain Hall on the Raymond Campus.