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Renaming senior center in Miss Sue’s honor is a fitting tribute

Last Friday I had the opportunity to watch a ceremony honoring a very wonderful person.

The ceremony renaming the Vicksburg Senior Center for Sue Roberts — a city employee of more than 40 years — was a fitting tribute to one of the best people in city government I’ve ever known.

“Miss Sue,” as everyone called her, was the kind of civil servant all government agencies should have — courteous, knowledgeable and considerate. As South Ward alderman Alex Monsour put it, the people who called his office weren’t just taxpayers; Miss Sue “wanted to solve their problem.”

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. put it another way, “This lady served until she couldn’t serve,” he said. “She came with more dedication to this city than anyone I’ve ever met.

“She had more loyalty to this city than anyone I’ve ever met. And to just name or rename a building after her is just a small token to this family of our appreciation to show how much we loved and respected Sue Roberts,” Flaggs said. “She had more passion for her city.”

My first encounter with Miss Sue was right after I arrived in Vicksburg and began covering the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. At the time, Sid Beauman was South Ward alderman and I had a question about an item on the board’s agenda. My call was answered by a soft voice with the greeting, “Alderman Beauman’s office.”

A few days later, I went to visit Sid in his office and met this petite woman with a pleasant smile and a warm greeting. She told me Sid was not in his office but was on his way and asked me to stay. As I waited, we talked about I don’t know how many things — family, my job and religion. Sue was one of those people who could make you feel at ease in the middle of a hurricane. I think we were about the same age, which made talking with her and discussing families so much easier.

I remember one conversation centered on religion. Sue was a convert to the Catholic Church and I was raised in the church. She was always curious about what it was like to grow up Catholic and interested in different aspects of life as a young Catholic.

Her presence in the South Ward alderman’s office was an oasis of calm in a crazy world. There were many times when I was at city hall, whether on an assignment or just nosing around, that I would stop by and visit with Sue for a few minutes and it was always a pleasure to talk with her and pick up on her knowledge of city government in Vicksburg.

When I heard of her death in 2019, after a long, arduous fight against cancer, I had to stop and pause to remember her smile and her easy manner.

The board’s decision to rename the Vicksburg Senior Center was a good idea. People like Sue Roberts are rare and they don’t come by very often. Because of the person she was, the folks at City Hall will remember her. Renaming the building will ensure the city remembers her.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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