Myrtis Simmons Craft (1927-2005)
By Mae Helen Clark
Tomorrow is a mystery.
Today is a gift.
That is why they call it the present.
Celebrating life in the present was just what Myrtis Simmons Craft was doing on Thursday, May 12, 2005. It was a sunny afternoon and she seemed to feel like going for a ride through the countryside in the Stratton community because she wanted to find Stamper Pond, a place where Martin Stamper, one of the early settlers of Newton County, once had a mill.
The Newton County Historical and Genealogical Society was going to hold their monthly meeting at the pond on Saturday, so she wanted to find the pond before the meeting day.
Thursday morning Myrtis invited me to go with her for the ride. We were to come back to Newton after the ride and eat supper at Boros Restaurant. This was certainly an afternoon outing to remember because she passed from this life into eternity about the same time of day on Friday.
Myrtis loved the countryside and its renewal each spring, followed by the fall season when all the leaves turned red, yellow, and orange. She loved colorful things, and especially a pretty dress. At her wake, she looked as elegant in death as she did in life.
Myrtis learned about faith from her Grandmother Florence Price Horton while they walked down a dirt road in the Liberty community southeast of Newton. Knowing life was not a fantasy it was reality she was a courageous person who was ever hopeful, who was ever grateful, always compassionate and generous, and ever devoted to her family and loyal to her friends.
Myrtis had one step-son and she loved children. She was especially fond of little J. D. West, her neighbors son J. D. and his mother Brandi Parks West stopped by our table at Boros where we were eating supper Thursday night and they gave each other a big hug. Then she said, He is so cute when he runs on his tip toes!
Myrtis was honest in expressing her convictions and opinions, yet tolerant of other peoples beliefs as well. She wanted always to be the winner, and when she topped you on a point, she would laugh and clap her hands.
Her love for reading was inspired by her Grandfather Francis Marion (Frank) Horton who was also an avid reader. Myrtis loved to read for the sheer pleasure of entertainment and her home was filled with books close at hand and waiting to be read.
Myrtis loved good plays, good literature, and good music. She often talked about our English Literature teacher Miss Frances Browning who taught at Clarke College where we both attended classes.
Myrtis and I have worked together on several historical and genealogical projects. I have gone with her to cemeteries, libraries, court houses, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History searching for relatives. She did not stop with one finding. She was a thorough researcher and worked hard to insure the accuracy of anything she placed in print.
There is an old cemetery that we found out about that is southeast of Newton. It is way off from the road and Myrtis was told that the only way to get to it was to ride on a four wheeler. That quickly changed her mind and ended the searching.
Now that Myrtis has passed from this earth into eternity, all of us who knew her well have been saddened over our loss. Memories give richness to life and her spirit will live on through these memories and the works she leaves behind.
Peace, so often planted
In the shadowed days of sorrow
And then blossoms in the sunshine of tomorrow.
B. T. Hoff