Governor honors Vicksburg volunteer|[4/22/06]

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 24, 2006

JACKSON – The year 2006 has been a big year for Frances Koury and her family.

The 80-year-old on Friday received a statewide award for her volunteer work, the second such honor this year for the local cultural arts advocate. Last month, she and her family celebrated the 90th birthday of her husband, Ellis Koury, and next month the pair will mark 60 years of marriage.

Frances Koury’s recognition by the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence for volunteer service came on the heels of a reward she received in March, being honored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi as one of 20 Mississippi Ageless Heroes. Friday’s award, given by the Mississippi Commission of Volunteer Service, honored Koury’s work in the arts and humanities.

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&#8220It’s been overwhelming for me,” she said. &#8220It’s been a joy to be part of a community that appreciates what I’ve done. But, I didn’t achieve this on my own.”

Koury is the coordinator of Vicksburg’s birthday celebration, performances by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the city’s Fourth of July celebrations and fireworks display and programs with the umbrella organization, Four Seasons of the Arts. She’s also the originator of the International Chamber Music Festival.

Friday’s luncheon and awards ceremony at Jackson’s downtown Marriott honored 12 people and groups with 10 awards noting volunteer work in various ways. Mississippi first lady Marsha Barbour was the keynote speaker.

Koury was nominated by employees of the Vicksburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, who credited her for making Vicksburg a top tourism destination.

Koury, a Waxahachie, Texas, native who moved to Vicksburg in 1943, owned Koury’s Children’s Shop with her husband until 1997. Her love of children, music and art has been an inspiration for her &#8220tireless” work at bringing &#8220world class” events to Vicksburg.

&#8220Each program stands alone and has brought a different feeling in the community every time I attempted a new venture in the arts,” she said. &#8220It’s all been on a personal basis. That’s what makes this award (special).”

A short video, featuring people in the community, was shown before Koury was honored. Dorothy Brasfield, organizer for Mississippi Symphony Orchestra events, said Koury is &#8220a loving, gentile lady with a great deal of ability.” Her comments were backed by those of Clara Ross Stamps, former interim director of the VCVB.

&#8220Mrs. Koury has the ability to instill in you all of the importance of giving back to the community,” she said.

The next project for Koury will be the annual Fourth of July Celebration, which will once again extend to a full 8