VCVB center manager retires Mary Anderson has made many friends in 21 years

Published 12:01 am Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mary Anderson’s desk drawers are filled with paperwork, but her favorite things to pull from the stack are the thank-you notes she’s received during her 21 years working in the Vicksburg tourism industry.

On Monday, Anderson, 62, will pack up her thank-you notes and retire as manager of the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau’s information center at Old Highway 27 and Clay Street.

“I never thought it would happen,” Anderson said. “I hope I don’t show up Tuesday out of habit and they have to run me out of here.”

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Anderson said her job is to help others, though she’s been touched by the kindness of those she’s met along the way.

Anderson gave directions to an out-of-town couple a few years ago and, “Two weeks later, I got a card from them inviting me to come visit their garden back home. The card said they were my new friends.”

It was one of the many friendly visits Anderson has had since she began working with the VCVB in April 1990. Before, she worked 19 years at a retail shop, Bettye K’s in downtown Vicksburg, and five years as a Grove Street Elementary School crossing guard. She was promoted to manager of the VCVB information center in January 1995.

“I’ve met so many great people,” she said. “I’ve even shared recipes with some of them.”

Anderson said she’s looking forward to being able to spend time with her two children, who live in Tennessee and Alabama, and her four grandchildren.

“I just want to rest, sleep late and play the role of a tourist myself,” she said.

“Her leaving is a loss,” said Brenda Harrison, who started work at the VCVB visitors center this year. “She’s absolutely precious. To watch her work with people… There’s just so much more I could learn from her.”

Anderson plans to stay active in the community and keep up her routine, which includes walking in the Vicksburg National Military Park in the mornings.

“I’ll still walk,” Anderson said. “But I may let myself sleep in.”