Two leaders of the Olive Branch community in their day have been posthumously added to the prestigious Olive Branch Hall of Fame.
William Malone Maxwell and Willie James George were inducted during a ceremony held as part of the Olive Branch Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon at the Whispering Woods Hotel and Conference Center on Wednesday.
“I think they are very well deserved,” said Mayor Scott Phillips about the selections.
William Malone Maxwell, born in 1897 in Cockrum and who moved to Olive Branch after his marriage to the former Gladys Haraway, is best remembered as a member of the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors for 20 years, from 1949-1969. He was President of the Board from 1960-1968.
Maxwell was part of the governmental body that made several decisions that had an impact on Olive Branch and DeSoto County.
Maxwell helped obtain funding that built Goodman Road from what is now the intersection with Miss. Hwy. 305 and on to Pleasant Hill Road.
The action began the process that eventually led to Goodman Road becoming Miss. Hwy. 302 in the entirety of DeSoto County.
DeSoto supervisors, including Maxwell, also worked during the time to widen and improve Bethel Road, now known as Hacks Cross Road and pushed for the construction of the Hwy. 78 overpass.
A number of subdivision regulation and zoning ordinances were also enacted under his watch.
William Maxwell died in October 1976. Current Olive Branch Alderwoman Joy Loftin Henderson is a granddaughter of Maxwell.
Willie James George, born in 1938 at Carrolton, was best known as an educator and school administrator in Olive Branch and DeSoto County.
George came to Olive Branch to teach mathematics at Eastside High School in 1960 and married his wife Dorothy one year later.
George became Eastside High principal in 1996, where he served for four years before he became co-principal at Olive Branch High School in 1970.
In 1991, George was asked to become principal at Horn Lake Intermediate School, where he remained until his retirement in 1996.
Several accolades, awards and honors came George’s way during his time as an educator. He received the Outstanding School Administration Award from DeSoto County Schools in 1991 and the Excellence in Education Award from the Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce in 1996.
Willie George died in February 2008 at the age of 70.
Wednesday marked the first time the Olive Branch Hall of Fame induction event took place as part of the Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon. Previous inductions have occurred at the city’s Board of Aldermen chambers in the Municipal Court building.
Former Mayor Sam Rikard started the Hall of Fame in 2007, helping develop a charter to determine the process of selecting what was termed “honoring and perpetuating the memory of those special men and women who have had a meaningful impact on the development of Olive Branch.”
Initially, 10 people were named to the Hall as charter inductees. Each year since, a board of seven people, a board that includes Rikard, along with current Mayor Scott Phillips, who is an ex-officio member and board chairman, makes the selections for the Hall of Fame.
Their names are included on a plaque in the City Hall Rotunda and a photograph and biography are placed in a Hall of Fame book next to that plaque.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.