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City honors Stirgus in renaming street

During his 35 years as an educator, James E. Stirgus Sr. influenced and touched the lives of many students and parents.

Friday morning at the intersection of Marcus Street and Halls Ferry Road, his efforts were honored during a ceremony renaming Marcus Street James E. Stirgus Sr. Street.

More than 100 people forgot about the summer heat and humidity to attend the program, which included the presentation of a plaque from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

“Today we gather here not to change the history of Marcus Bottom, but to enhance the history of Marcus Bottom,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. “Today we are here to enhance it because of this man (Stirgus), and oh, what a man. A man who has impacted so many of us.”

Flaggs outlined Stirgus’ career, saying he served as assistant principal and principal of Rosa A. Temple High School and later as assistant superintendent and then superintendent of the Vicksburg School District.

“It is because of his impact, it’s because of his family’s impact. He knew then as he knows now, that every child can learn.”

Stirgus’ daughter, Ann Stirgus Marley, said her father “sacrificed some family relationships to do what he thought was right.

“There are countless stories I hear through the years of his sacrifice, his courage, to make Vicksburg a better city,” she said.

Marshall Sanders, who grew up on Marcus Street, said as a boy he admired Stigus because of his talents.

As a student at Rosa A. Temple, he said he watched Stirgus, “And he was doing innovative things that had not been done before. We (Temple grads) went all over the state, and I heard people say that they recognized in us something special. That man, J.E. Stirgus, was the man driving that. He demanded excellence.”

Sanders urged people to look at the street sign and understand “what that sign is about. I want you to talk to your children and grandchildren about J.E. Stirgus and the contributions he made to this community.”

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said the Stirgus family had a legacy from their father they needed to maintain. “Mr. Stirgus, you earned it, (the street renaming) and you deserved it.”

Robert Major Walker, a former Vicksburg mayor and Rosa Temple graduate, said Stirgus had a great influence on people from Temple. The list of those people, he said, “Was too long to mention.”

“Mr. Stirgus’ influence has not just been on the black community, he has also been a force that was dealt with and brought improvements and a kind of camaraderie between blacks and whites in this community,” he said, adding the street sign will be a tribute to him.

Vicksburg Warren School District Trustee Joe Loviza said he had never known a man more dedicated than Stirgus.

Marley said after the ceremony she was grateful to see her father honored and by the attendance for the ceremony.

Speaking of the sacrifices her father made for the community, she said, “I could not be prouder of him for making those hard choices. This has been a great day and I hope his legacy will continue; that our young people will know that sometimes you have to take the less popular route.”

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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