Fondly remembering an old college classmate

Published 1:08 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2021

One of my college classmates passed away last month.

Detrice Shepherd-Sims, a Uniontown native, died four days before turning 51.  Her death took me by surprise and makes me very sad.

She was laid to rest last month in Uniontown.

I know she’s been gone a few weeks, but my grieving process is different from others.

Detrice was one of the first 10 people I met when we arrived as freshmen at Stillman College during the summer of 1988.

We shared a lot in common.  We were small town kids and attended the only high school in our area. She attended R.C. Hatch High School. I was a Cottondale kid who attended Holt High School. We often joked about which mascot was stronger: the R.C. Hatch Bobcat or the Holt Ironmen.

Quickly, we became friends, especially during the difficult transition from super high school senior to unknown college freshman. We both struggled trying to figure out what equals X and finding the right words to a thesis statement in a research paper.

I graduated in 1992 and took a job with The Biloxi Sun Herald. Detrice graduated a year later. We kept in touch over the years, especially through Facebook.

Through Facebook, I often talked about writing a book or a movie. Detrice would be the among the first ones to support my goal.

She enjoyed my writing, especially the homecoming column from last year.

Another thing I liked about Detrice was her ability  to keep it real.

She would laugh with you and if things weren’t on the level, she’d tell you about it. An hour later, we’d be laughing again.

When I began working for The Selma Times-Journal three years ago, Detrice had a connection. Clara Gary and her were classmates at R.C. Hatch. We both shared memories of Detrice.

With District Attorney Michael Jackson and Circuit Court Judges Don McMillian, Collins A. Pettaway Jr. and Marvin Wiggins serving in Perry County, I occasionally write about Uniontown. I’d tag Detrice in those stories and she always knew whoever I was writing about.

As I returned to Stillman College’s homecoming after a 20-year absence in 2020, Detrice was one of those folks I hoped to see there.

She was unable to attend because of illness.

I’m mad at myself for missing out on those other years to build more memories.

I’ll never forget the times we shared as classmates and friends between 1988 and 1992.

RIP Detrice Shepherd-Sims, you will be missed greatly by family and friends. Thank you for four wonderful years.