By Carlie Myers
The Choctaw Plaindealer
Witty, loving, and intelligent: these are the three words that best describe the late George Rooks. Rooks was a long-time alderman for the town Ackerman and an insurance agent, but most importantly, he was a father, a grandfather, and a wonderful friend. Rooks died on March, 19th, 2017 at his residence. He was 74 years old.
The first person to speak with the Choctaw Plaindealer about Rooks was Tommy Curtis, a close and dear friend of Rooks’. Curtis spoke highly of Rooks calling him a friend who was as close as a brother. Curtis, a long-time alderman of Ackerman, became friends with Rooks when Rooks became an alderman himself. Rooks had been in the insurance industry for nearly 40 years before he retired and became an alderman for Ward 3. As time went on in office, Rooks and Curtis would become best friends.
Rooks was a sports enthusiast who supported the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Curtis, an Ole Miss fan, said they had a lot to talk about. Rooks and Curtis attended many sporting events together, especially Friday night football games supporting the Choctaw Chargers. They would ride together to the football games on Rooks’ golf cart from his house located less than a mile away from the field.
Rooks had a love for the Delta much like his love for sports. On many Saturday nights, he would take Curtis and his wife to the Delta and give them a tour of where he was born and raised.
“George called me every day. Seven days a week. . . We talked every day,” said Curtis. There wasn’t a place Rooks went where he didn’t meet someone he knew. Rooks always looked forward to going to the Mississippi Municipal League Convention held on the coast every year where he met people he knew from all over the state. Curtis said, “George never met a stranger.”
Another close friend of Rooks is Gary Beals, Choctaw County High School girls’ basketball coach. Beals met Rooks for the first time on Beals’ driveway while moving into his new house located right next to Rooks home. Rooks introduced himself to his new neighbor and told Beals that he was a former basketball coach and an alderman. From that moment on, they formed a friendship that would take them to sharing a bench together on the basketball court for ten years.
Rooks became Beals’ right-hand man on the court. Rooks even earned a basketball play named after him called “George press offense”. Rooks would run this play with his team in Woodland when he was coaching. Beals said the play had a major part in the team’s victory in the district championship against Calhoun City. The Woodland gymnasium where Rooks’ winning play originated is now Woodland Furniture Company, but the memory of Coach Rooks is still remembered with a picture of him and his team hanging on the wall. Shirts were also made for Rooks that said “Rooks Rowdies”, a reference to former Mississippi State basketball coach and his fans.
Sports played such a big role in Rooks’ life that Mistie Thomas, daughter of Rooks, said that her most memorable memories with her dad were made at Mississippi State sporting events. “He taught me my whole life that we bleed maroon and white and that there was only one school that meant anything,” said Thomas. Rooks taught his daughter that if she worked hard, she would find success just as he did. Thomas and her husband hope to instill her father’s teachings in their son, Tyler.
“He was just a wonderful feller”, said Beals. “He cared a lot. He cared about helping. He cared about his grandson, Tyler and his daughter, Mistie, and he loved his Bulldogs.”