LELAND GARLAND MIMS

Submitted by Billy Hathorn, Class of 1966

Leland Garland Mims (February 7, 1901 -- September 4, 1979) was a Minden businessman and civic leader who served as president of the Webster Parish Police Jury from 1956-1973. He was also the elected president of the Police Jury Association of Louisiana from 1965-1967 and served on the executive committee of the statewide organization. On October 5, 1976, Minden observed "Leland Mims Day".


Webster Parish Police Jury

In 1953, Governor Robert F. Kennon (1902-1988), also a former Minden mayor, appointed Mims to the police jury, the 12-member parish governing council, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Mims' distant cousin, G. Calhoun Garland. At the time, the members were elected at-large by wards. Mims campaigned door-to-door in each Democratic primary election, beginning in 1955-1956, and usually led the whole field with a healthy majority. His colleague, Minden businessman William N. "Nick" Love (1909-2000), was also a strong vote getter in police jury races. The lower-polling candidates wound up either being defeated outright or placed into runoff elections among themselves.

During his tenure on the police jury, Mims ultimately served on each committee. He was the third vice-president, then second vice-president, and the first vice-president of the state Police Jury Association headquartered in Baton Rouge. He served from April 20, 1965, to April 2, 1967, as the president of the state organization, the only Webster Parish juror thus far to have headed the association. In 1973, partly as a result of health problems of his wife. Mims relinquished the police jury presidency to the first vice-president Morris W. McClary (1917-1988) of Sarepta. When he, and McClary as well, retired from the body in 1976, the Police Jury Association of the Fourth Congressional District adopted a resolution recognizing Mims for his "excellent, energetic, and intelligent service." James Tenney "Jim" Branch, Sr. (born 1927), a Minden businessman who succeeded McClary as jury president said that he had "never known any juror to be more honest, sincere, and knowledgeable of jury matters. Years ago, the jury found itself to be in bad financial shape. Then he became president and, and [the jury] is in great shape [through] the financial abilities of Mr. Mims."

In addition to his watch over fiscal matters, Mims took an interest in all parish roads, including some of the lesser-traveled ones. He made sure that all thoroughfares were well-maintained and that planning be undertaken before new roads were authorized. Daughter Linda Martin recalls her father as a "people person. He really loved people and enjoyed working with them. He spoke with plain words and from the heart. He was easygoing and a peacemaker by nature, but he never hesitated to take a stand for what he believed was right."

Mims served on the jury until July 1, 1976, having declined to see another term in the single-member District 8 seat created earlier by court-ordered reapportionment. Outgoing Webster Parish Clerk of Court Clarence Douglas Wiley (1909-1976) was handily elected to succeed Mims, but Wiley died as police juror-elect four months before he was to have taken office. Instead a special election was held, and the Webster Parish school administrator Ralph Lamar Rentz, Sr. (1930-1995), defeated Minden insurance agent John Stewart Covington (1930-1997), later of Doyline, by three votes for the right to succeed Leland Mims. Rentz had finished a close third in the 1971 Democratic primary for the Webster Parish seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives, a position won by Judge R. Harmon Drew, Sr. (1917-1996) and held at the time by Parey P. Branton (born 1918) of Shongaloo, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor..

Early years and education

Mims was born in Evergreen in central Webster Parish to Henry Nathaniel Mims (February 3, 1851 -- June 25, 1900) and the former Ella Olivia Garland (July 31, 1859 -- May 25, 1920). A successful farmer, Henry Mims died suddenly at the age of forty-nine, some seven months before his wife gave birth to Leland Mims. Henry Mims was a native of the Darlington district of South Carolina; Ella from neighboring Sumter County, South Carolina. Henry and Ella are interred at Pine Grove Cemetery north of Minden. Leland Mims was the youngest of seven children, his oldest sister was already nineteen when Leland was born. The second youngest sibling was seven years Leland's senior. "The older siblings were more like surrogate parents or doting aunts and uncles than brothers and sisters, and he was close to all of them," recalls Linda Martin.

Mims graduated from Minden High School in 1921, a year to the month after his mother died shortly before she would have turned sixty-one. Leland was the athletic director of the yearbook, ''The Grig'', a member of the football, basketball, and track teams and also the basketball captain. Among his MHS classmates were the artist Ben Earl Looney (1904-1981) and the future Minden educator, Kirtley J. Miles (1904-1993). After high school, Mims attended Louisiana Tech University, then Louisiana Polytechnic Institute, in Ruston on an athletic scholarship, but he did not graduate. He then ran a store for a period of time.
Business and civic affairs

Thereafter, Mims headed the sales department for the former Standard Chevrolet Company, then owned by banker C.O. Holland (1895-1981) and businessman Earl Long (1898-1980); some thirteen years later, Mims opened his own used-car business. At times he was in business with M.O. "Mop" Powell and Thomas C. Bloxom, Sr. (1896-1978). the father of the Minden police chief and the former fire chief. His operation was first on Pearl Street across from the former Joy Theater and then on East Union.

Mims was named Minden Man of the Year in 1960. He was an honorary lifetime Boy Scout and a Mason. Though he had no musical training, Mims sang tenor at band concerts in the park and also in the choir of the First United Methodist Church downtown, of which he was a member of the board of stewards. Mims was active in the Minden Lions Club and was selected "Boss of the Year" by the Business and Professional Women's Club.

The Lowe family

Mrs. Mims, the former Rubye Lowe (February 16, 1904 -- March 14, 1975) was the daughter of William Matt Lowe (January 1, 1872 -- March 4, 1955) and the former Clara Hodges (February 5, 1880 -- December 29, 1954), she a native of Cotton Valley. Lowe, a businessman known as W. Matt Lowe, served as mayor of Minden from 1916-1920 and was thereafter a member of the police jury for twenty years. he died at a Shreveport hospital at the age of eighty-three. Matt Lowe was an uncle of Minden businessman Prentiss W. Lowe (1905-1992). In addition to Rubye, the Lowes had two other children, the late Fred Lowe and Thelma Lowe Spencer (1901-2000), the wife of George B. Spencer, Sr.;, who was a maternal uncle of Minden businessman Marcus Wren (born 1924). The Spencers were living in Star City in Lincoln County in southeastern Arkansas at the time of George Spencer's death. The Mims, Lowes, and Spencers are all interred in the family plot at Minden Cemetery.

Rubye Lowe Mims procured a teacher's certificate from Louisiana Tech. She taught for a year before the couple married on January 15, 1925. Hence, her father and husband were both police jury, but their terms did not coincide. The Mims lived at 103 Germantown Road. Rubye, a diabetic, and Leland Mims, both died of congestive heart failure., some four years apart. After Mims' death, the Germantown Road residence was sold to Minden photographer Stanley B. Quade (1914-2002) and his wife, the former Elnora Davis (1919-1986).

Linda Lee Mims Martin is the only child of Leland and Rubye Mims. Married to her high school sweetheart, Robert Oliver Martin, Jr., Linda and Rob graduated from MHS in 1955 and resides in Seabrook, Texas. They have one son, Robert Martin, III, who resides in League City, a suburb southeast of Houston, with his wife, Kimberly, and their two children, Chloe Lynn and Cameron Oliver . The Martins lived in Connecticut from 1976-2001, where Rob was employed by International Business Machines. He retired in 1993 with thirty years of service.

Minden was his town!

On June 8, 1973, on the occasion of Mims' vacating of the police jury presidency after seventeen years, the ''Minden Press-Herald'' quoted his advice to aspiring politicians: The main person that can help you is the Good Lord -- you've got to put him there. There's not much that can be done unless we give praise to Him and look to Him for guidance."

In 1975, when Mims announced his decision to retire from his jury seat, he told the ''Press-Herald'': "I loved every minute of it. It was the high spot of my life. And I have worked with a lot of good men. Daughter Linda Martin added: "He loved Minden with all his heart -- it was his town."



References

"Leland Mims: My Time to Bow Out", Editorial, ''Minden Press-Herald'', June 8, 1973

"Mims Will Not Seek Another Term", ''Minden Press-Herald'', undated 1975 article

''Shreveport Journal'', October 6, 1976

Extensive email exchanges with Linda Lee Mims Martin of Seabrook, Texas

Social Security Death Index

Net Detective, People Search

Minden High School ''Grig'', 1920