Orley Mason Hood Jr.

Published 10:01 am Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Orley Mason Hood Jr.

Orley Mason Hood Jr.

Vicksburg native Orley Mason Hood Jr., a masterful newspaper writer and a loving husband and father, died Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, from complications of a stem cell transplant for acute leukemia. A memorial service will be held 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014, at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Museum with visitation to follow at Hal & Mal’s Restaurant in Jackson.

Orley was a wildly popular columnist, first in sports and then in news and features, for both the Jackson Daily News and Clarion-Ledger. His columns, often slap-your-knee funny and always insightful, won state, regional and national awards.

Said former Clarion-Ledger/Jackson Daily News editor Charles Overby, “Orley was the soul of The Clarion-Ledger during my days. He was part of a Murderer’s Row of columnists people just had to read before they went to work.”

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Among Hood’s many fans was one named Archie Manning.

“As a sports writer, Orley covered me at Ole Miss and with the Saints. Interviews with him were always fun,” Manning said. “Seems like we always ended up laughing, and, with the Saints, I needed a few laughs. When he switched over to news and features, I was a fan. I loved reading Orley’s columns. It was like our conversations. He made me laugh.”

Rick Cleveland, a close friend and longtime newspaper comrade, said, “I thought I knew everything about Orley until he was diagnosed with leukemia. I never knew he had such courage and grit. He fought it and fought it and fought it. He kept his humor and his wit. I was amazed.”

Hood was knowledgeable about many subjects but was a sports encyclopedia. He was an avid golfer until he married the love of his life, Mary Ann, and they had sons Hunter and Tucker, who were soccer stars. At that point, playing golf gave way to soccer fandom. Orley became the ultimate soccer dad and loved every second of it.

Orley was originally from Vicksburg. His long career in journalism included work at the Meridian Star and The Commercial Appeal as well as the Jackson newspapers. He held positions as sportswriter, columnist, sports editor, Southern Style editor, senior editor and features editor at the Jackson newspapers.

Orley is survived by his wife of 30 years, Mary Ann Welburn Hood; sons Hunter Welburn Hood and Tucker McGee Hood; sister, Cathy Hood Phillips (Alton) and several nieces and nephews. Orley was proceeded in death by his parents, Orley and Vivian Hood and brother, Howard Allison Hood.

The Hood family wishes to  thank Dr. Grace Shumaker, the oncology nurses at Baptist Medical Center, Dr. Stephanie Elkins and Dr. Tondre Buck  at UMMC and the entire staff of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit for their love and care of Orley over the last 27 months.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, Orley Hood High School Sports Journalism Award 1152 Lakeland Dr., Jackson, MS 39216, or the Mississippi Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation at 1907 Dunbarton, Suite C, Jackson, MS 39216.