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Mal will be greatly missed

When former Courier owner Jim Lambert hired me to sell advertising in late 1996, I was to replace Mal Jones who had been here for quite some time and was ready to retire (again). For the first month, I rode the route with Mal, learning about our accounts and how to treat people.  I had come from a manufacturing background and rarely dealt directly with customers, so this was all a brand new experience for me.  Mal made it a good one right out of the gate.
Eventually I took over, and Mal remained here as a writer of feature stories and so forth. He continued to help us out for several years and often came by the office to chat.  We all loved him and looked forward to seeing to him.
Sadly, he passed away earlier this week.
The more I came to know Mal over the years, the more I realized how many lives this man touched.  In my experience, we grew up listening to Mal on WMDC radio– ball games, morning shows, etc.  Mal’s voice delivered the good news (or bad) about school closing (or remaining open) during winter weather events.  He described the action of numerous football games that could often be heard again on Saturday mornings.  We read the game stories in the Courier the next week with much anticipation.
I learned to write newspaper stories in large part because of reading what all Mal wrote over the years.
Beyond being uniquely talented, Mal loved people.  He loved his daughter Kathy, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  He loved Hazlehurst and the people of many backgrounds who call this place home.  He loved the stories of the times that crafted this community into what it is today.
He proudly served our country on the mine-sweeping ship USS Raven during WWII and D-Day and loved to tell the stories of some of the adventures of he and his shipmates.
Mal was a regular at Stark’s Restaurant, once writing a witty column entitled The Kracked Kup Koffee Klub about the tales told in the legendary restaurant.  He simply loved people and loved writing about all of us.
Luckily, staff writer Anna Coates was able to write some of his story about his service during WWII.  The story ran in last week’s edition days before the Memorial Day service in Hazlehurst on Monday, where many of us would see Mal for the last time.  He was one of three surviving veterans of WWII from Copiah County in attendance, along with Jerry Yates and Alton Ricks, recognized by guest speaker Harold Jones, Sheriff of Copiah County.
Godspeed, Mal.  Heaven got a good one.

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