Pickett remembered as respected educator

Published 11:19 am Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Robert Pickett

Robert Pickett

When people were asked about Robert E. Pickett, they talked about his accomplishments in the Vicksburg Warren County School District and his tenure on the Hinds Community College Board of Trustees, and used several words to describe him, including “educator” and “respected.”

Pickett, a former teacher, principal and superintendent of schools in the Vicksburg Warren County School District and president of the Hinds Community College Board of Trustees, died Monday at Select Specialty Hospital in Jackson. He was 78.

“He was a good man,” said school board trustee Joe Loviza, who was the first dean of the Hinds campus in Vicksburg. “He was a good educator and an athlete. He went to college on a scholarship.”

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Pickett, Loviza said, was an elementary principal, junior high principal and a high school principal before becoming superintendent of schools in 1994. “He had the respect of the community,” he said.

As a member of the Hinds Board of Trustees, Pickett “was excellent. He worked his way up in the Hinds system. He knew that a community college education was the salvation for a lot of working class folks. And he worked for the students. He was a team player, a good friend and an excellent family man.”

A native of Brookhaven, Pickett was born Sept. 8, 1936. He graduated from Alexander High School in 1952, and began his teaching career in 1957 after graduating from Alcorn State University.

Former school district trustee Zelmarine Murphy was a student of Pickett’s at Rosa A. Temple High School, where he was a teacher and coach and later served as administrative assistant.

“I guess I speak for the Buccaneer and Brave nations,” she said. “We were very proud to have a gentleman of his caliber (at Temple) who could teach and play basketball and coach basketball.

“More important, he was an Alcornite. He was a 1957 graduate of Alcorn. He played basketball at Alcorn and his records at Alcorn stood until the 1960s,” she said. “He was an excellent teacher, principal and superintendent for the Vicksburg Warren County School District whom everybody respected and loved.”

Pickett served as principal of McIntyre Elementary and Junior High School, Jefferson Junior High School, East Vicksburg Junior High School, Vicksburg Junior High School and Vicksburg High School.

When he was principal at Vicksburg High School, Loviza said, the school had two principals, one for white students and one for black students. “He was principal with Charlie Peet,” he said.

While he was superintendent of schools, Pickett represented Warren County on the Hind Community College Board. When he retired in 2000, he was appointed Warren County trustee and was elected board president in 2008.

“I had a professional relationship with him for a long time when he was a principal and superintendent of schools for Vicksburg and Warren County and as president in the board of trustees,” said Hinds Community College President Dr. Clyde Muse.

“He gave all he had for education. He was a good leader and always put the students first. He always wanted what was best for the students. He was very involved in the college, not just going to the board meetings, but attending other events, like our conclaves. He was loved by all at Hinds.”

Picket is survived by his wife of 59 years, Dorothy Pickett; a daughter, Deborah Sanders of Vicksburg; a son, Ritchie Pickett of Sugar Land, Texas; and five grandchildren.

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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