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Clinton Couple Supports Mississippi College Mask Campaign

MC graduates Frances and Dan Smith of Clinton are doing a wonderful job as mask makers.
MC graduates Frances and Dan Smith of Clinton are doing a wonderful job as mask makers.

Frances R. Smith is pretty speedy when it comes to sewing hundreds of masks for firefighters, hospital nurses, relatives and now for Mississippi College’s family.

A retired first grade teacher, the Clinton resident is happy to do it during the COVID-19 pandemic. She and her husband, Dan, both MC graduates, are well-skilled at their craft as volunteers.

It’s hard to assess precisely how much time the Clinton couple devotes to their goodwill project. But they seldom slow down.

“We have no idea how many hours we have spent working on masks – 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there,” Frances Smith said in late July. “And before long, bunches are made.”

In early summer, the Smiths are setting the gold standard in the Mississippi College alumni mask campaign unveiled in late May.

So far, the MC initiative generated about 700 facial masks meant to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

The Mississippi couple created more than 100 masks and should drop off an additional 100 or so on the Clinton campus next week. Students, faculty, staff and visitors will wear masks as part of the university’s fall reopening. Temperature checks, hand sanitizer stations all across campus and social distancing procedures are among many health measures.

Jim Turcotte, vice president for enrollment services and executive director of alumni affairs, salutes Frances and Dan Smith for their hard work.

Appreciative of the contributions of mask makers in several states, he commends the Smiths for their extraordinary job in MC’s hometown of Clinton. Some masks from the grads are arriving from as far away as Arizona.

The Smiths first started producing masks for the Jackson Fire Department where their son, Scott, is a firefighter. Before long, they were sewing masks for nurses at Merit Hospital, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and St. Dominic Hospital in Jackson. And then for relatives and friends in South Carolina.

Finally, the Smiths heard about the MC alumni mask campaign announced prior to Memorial Day weekend. And the Charleston, South Carolina natives quickly got busy. They know which MC masks are popular with the university community. Blue and gold masks are their specialty.

The Mississippi College mask-making project is well-timed with the university’s nearly 5,000 students returning for fall classes August 17.

How did the Smiths become Mississippians and join the Blue & Gold family?

Frances and Dan were high school sweethearts in Charleston and graduates of South Carolina colleges. Frances is an alumna at Winthrop University and Dan is a Charleston Southern alumnus. The couple moved to Mississippi so Dan could work at his father’s business, National Upholstery. Frances began teaching at Clinton Park Elementary in 1969 and loved her work as an educator.

After teaching in the Clinton district for several years, Frances earned a master’s degree at Mississippi College in the late 1970s and later her specialist degree. She spent 36 years educating children in the Clinton district. Dan also earned a master’s degree at Mississippi College.

Frances and Dan Smith point out other MC connections. Their sons, Scott, the Jackson firefighter, and Jason, a transportation manager at J and J Bagging of Yazoo City, both attended Mississippi College.