Mississippi College

Bonnie L. Cole Scholarship Boosts MC

February 17, 2009

Bonnie L. Cole's 33 years of dedicated service at the Bogue Chitto Post Office and her half-century of research of families reflect the noteworthy path of a Lincoln County resident with a lifetime of achievements.

At age 93, Cole is adding to her long list of accomplishments by endowing a Bonnie L. Cole Scholarship at Mississippi College. The new scholarship will help pay the costs of MC students in the ministry or pursuing studies in nursing or medicine.

Frank Gunn, a retired pastor of First Baptist Church, Biloxi, Mississippi and a current Trustee of Mississippi College, is delighted to see his aunt create the scholarship at the Christian university in Clinton. So are many others who admire this grand woman with family roots in Lincoln County.

"I'm thrilled she's established this scholarship," Gunn said. "This will be icing on the cake for Aunt Bonnie," added Gunn, a 1957 graduate of Mississippi College.

The scholarship represents a way that this beloved genealogist and hard-working author will support future generations at 183-year-old MC, Mississippi's oldest university.

Cole is really into history. The Brookhaven resident has compiled books on all seven Daughters of the American Revolution chapters in Mississippi. She donated other valuable materials to the state archives in Jackson: 21 letters written by her family members during the Civil War. She's given 100 old books to libraries around the Magnolia State.

And there's more. She's compiled more than 50 genealogies. A Cole family reunion in 1946 first got her hooked. She's traveled to Georgia, Florida, Virginia, and the Carolinas in search of family history. Her passion never subsided.

The most useful family tool to enhance her genealogy research? That would be the Bible. Cole reflected on her hobby in the May 2008 edition of the publication "Mature Times" that's geared to active Mississippi seniors. "Old Bibles are great - a real good record of families," Cole said. "Many times, they have written notes in there about the family, and that really helps you."

Bonnie L. Cole admirers like Jim Futral, executive director-treasurer of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, heap praise on the Brookhaven resident.

She's well-connected to Mississippi Baptist history. In fact, Cole is a direct descendant of Richard Curtis Jr., Mississippi's first Baptist preacher who died in 1811, Futral noted. Curtis came to Mississippi from South Carolina before 1800 and preached at an old log cabin church near Natchez. The preacher died six years before Mississippi achieved statehood in 1817.

Cole "is one great lady" Futral said Monday at his Jackson office. The Mississippian, he said, has "carried on a high standard of serving the Lord."

The Mississippi College family applauds her work to preserve history and launch a scholarship that's a nice contribution to MC's history in the early 21st Century.

Cole is linked to Mississippi College history in a number of ways. Both her nephew, Frank Gunn, and her niece, Delores Cole Grantham, are married to MC alumni, the former Sandra Sandifer ('57) and Larry Grantham ('60). Miss Cole's great great niece, BethAnne Clark of Hattiesburg, was voted Miss MC in 2007-2008, and Miss MC in 1962 was "Dee" Cole Grantham, who is a member of the university's Hall of Fame. Additionally, she has a great niece and great nephew who are alumni and presently has a great great nephew in the sophomore class.

For Cole, who rose up the ranks to become the Bogue Chitto postmaster beginning in 1962, she's successfully put her stamp on Mississippi College for many decades to come.

Photo: BethAnne Clark, Bonnie L. Cole, Dee Cole Grantham

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