Mississippi Magazine Recognizes Miss Mattie

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Beginning in 2020, Mississippi Magazine has recognized as “Golden Magnolias” one woman in each of 6 categories: Education and Literature; Cultural Arts, Science and Medicine, Philanthropy, Food and Entertainment, and Community Advancement. The May/ June 2022 issue of Mississippi Magazine features Mattie Rials, “Miss Mattie,” of McComb, MS, as the “Golden Magnolia of Cultural Arts.”

According to writer Sandra Buckley, a “Golden Magnolia” represents a Mississippi woman who “is solid in her beliefs, yet has a soft heart. She may be delicate, but she’s hardy with a heart of gold. And her perseverance helps her bloom where she is planted. There are so many women in Mississippi who are setting the bar high. Through innovations, dedication, vision, and so much more, the marks they are leaving on the Magnolia State are indelible. Their impacts on our state loom large, and it’s our delight to share a closer look at 6 of these amazing women.”

In addition to Miss Mattie’s recognition for Cultural Arts, this year’s other Golden Magnolia recipients include: Natasha Trethewey for Education and Literature; Dr. Gerry Ann Houston for Science and Medicine; Martie Kwasny for Philanthropy; Sarah Thomas for Food, Sports, and Entertainment; and Jill Smith for Community Advancement.

Mattie Rials has encouraged literacy for generations of children in Pike, Amite, and Walthall counties. After directing her kindergarten for 9 years, she joined Pike-Amite-Walthall Library as children’s librarian. Then she enlisted “Scooter Mouse” to assist her during story hour, through school presentations, on radio shows, and in special events. Although now retired, Miss Mattie has continued to provide music with her autoharp during story hour, to assist with preparing favors for children, and to coordinate displays by artists in the library gallery.

Significantly, Miss Mattie and Scooter Mouse won The John Cotton Dana Award for public relations from the American Library Association in 1976. She also received the prestigious Kaigler-Lamont Award from the Children’s Book Festival in 1998. In addition, her Wednesday Friends won national recognition as the longest-running program for the developmentally and intellectually disabled. In her honor, The Miss Mattie Foundation annually awards college scholarships to deserving students in Pike, Amite, and Walthall counties. During the past few years, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of 5 books dedicated to Miss Mattie have helped fund these scholarships: "Scooter Mouse and the Teddy Bears," "Scooter Mouse and Rabbit," "Scooter Mouse Finds the Library," "Scooter Mouse Finds Christmas," and "Scooter Mouse and the Pothole," all of which are written by Alice Rhea Mitchell, illustrated by Sheryl K. Perry, and published by the Magnolia Gazette Publishing Corporation.

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