Koury, Holland named parade grand marshals for Christmas parade

Published 11:19 am Monday, November 24, 2014

Frances Koury, who with her husband Ellis owned and operated Koury’s Children’s Shop for 63 years and was instrumental in bringing a number of cultural events to the city, and Jeffery P. Holland, who has been U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center director for the past four years, have been named grand marshals for Downtown Vicksburg’s Christmas Parade of Lights Dec. 6. The theme is “Christmas on the River.”

The Vicksburg Main Street Board of Directors announced their selection Thursday.

“The fact that they would come to me and give me this honor is more exciting than I thought it would be,” Koury said. “I’m very honored. Dr. Holland is a good friend, so to be named grand marshal with him makes this even more special.”

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“ERDC is very proud to call Vicksburg home, so being selected as grand marshal of the Vicksburg Christmas Parade is a wonderful chance to celebrate the excellent relationship we have with the City,” said Holland, who will be accompanied at the parade by his wife, Janet.

Koury came to Vicksburg in 1943 and married Ellis Koury after he returned to Vicksburg after World War II.

“His family had a store at 1216 Washington St., The Emporium, that opened in 1928,” she said. “My husband had the shoe store next door. They moved the shoes out of The Emporium and opened Koury’s Shoe Store.”

In 1946, the Kourys bought the larger building and opened Koury’s Children’s Shop, which they operated until they retired in 1997. The shoe store is now Fredrick’s, which is owned by the Kourys’ niece, Norma Massey.

“He had been on Washington Street so long, my husband was known as the ‘mayor of Washington Street,’” she said. “There have been generations of ‘Koury’s Kids’ here in Vicksburg, and it’s been a privilege to know them all. It was never the merchandise, it was always the people.”

Besides working with her husband, Koury was the coordinator of the city’s 175th birthday celebration, performances by the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the Fourth of July Pops Concert and fireworks display, and the Four Seasons of the Arts program.

Her efforts to bring cultural events to children resulted in an average of 3,000 children annually being exposed to symphony music.

She was also the originator of the International Chamber Music Festival. Her community work resulted in her being honored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi in 2006 as one of 20 Mississippi Ageless Heroes. In 2009, she received a first place State Community Service Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

She received a Special Service Award from the Mississippi Main Street Association in 2011 for her work advocating Vicksburg and its downtown area.

Holland became ERDC director in January 2010, and manages one of the most diverse research organizations in the world –a collection of seven laboratories located in four states, with more than 2,500 employees, $1.2 billion in facilities and an annual program exceeding $2 billion.

He is also director of research and development and chief scientist for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Before his promotion, Holland for three years was deputy director of ERDC and, previously, director of the center’s Information Technology Laboratory.

He has a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering with honors, from Western Kentucky University, a master’s degree in environmental and water resources engineering from Vanderbilt University, and a Ph.D. in civil engineering from Colorado State University.

He has received numerous awards during his career, including the 2008 Presidential Rank Award, and the Army Silver and Bronze Order of de Fleury Medals, and the Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 publications, is a member of several technical societies, and is a registered professional engineer in Mississippi.

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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