Fans, cohorts remember Orley Hood…
Orley Hood touched people. Some of the people he touched remember Orley here. Please feel free to click and add your comment.
Boo Ferriss: “Through the years I have thoroughly enjoyed Orley’s feature and sports articles. He had a way of making sure you read his next column, and I did! Orley has to be recognized as one of our state’s greatest writers, and I am thankful for his wonderful friendship of many years.“
Archie Manning: “As a sports writer, Orley covered me at Ole Miss and with the Saints. Interviews with him were always fun. Seems like we always ended up laughing, and, with the Saints, I needed a few laughs. When he switched over to news and features, I was a fan. I loved reading Orley’s columns. It was like our conversations. He made me laugh.”
Charles Overby, Pulitzer Prize winning editor of The Clarion-Ledger: “Orley was the soul of The Clarion-Ledger during my days. He was part of a Murderer’s Row of columnists people just had to read before they went to work.”
Paul Borden (sports editor of The Clarion-Ledger when Orley was sports editor of the Jackson Daily News): “It goes without saying that Orley has a prominent place in Mississippi’s long tradition of producing great writers. What I think of first, however, is his impish smile. Whether it was on one of our road trips to a ballgame in Oxford, Starkville, or Hattiesburg or other places in the South just an evening with friends for a mess of crawfish, it delivered the message: “Boy, are we going to have a good time.” And we always did. He had such a great spirit and attitude about him. Maybe in other places Everybody Loved Raymond, but in Mississippi, Everybody Loved Orley.”
Raad Cawthon, former columnist The Clarion-Ledger: “Orley and I were friendly competitors when he was a columnist for the Jackson Daily News and I was writing one for The Clarion-Ledger. People liked him better and with good reason. Orley was an optimist, someone who saw life as being an on-going carnival, a double-ferris wheel kind of guy. When I first met him he was going through some of the usual personal problems everyone seems to go through. We hung together and traveled together, once taking a memorable jaunt to Oxford along with Malcolm White after we were invited to do a tag-team talk to one of Willie Morris’ writing classes at Ole Miss. I remember Orley and I both laughing at the thought of Willie imagining either of us as “writers.” During all those difficult times I never remember Orley being less than upbeat, always ready for the next thing.
I didn’t see much of Orley over the last several years. His life went one way, to a happy, happy marriage and the fatherhood that seemed to underline his life’s meaning. I left town. But I always kept up with him through mutual friends. And from what I knew, he never lost that feeling that life was just the damnedest proposition, a sponge from which to wring every ounce.
The last time I talked to Orley was at the funeral of a mutual friend. She was a beautiful woman, filled with love and warmth, who also died from complications of leukemia. She was much too young. Orley and I stood in her Texas kitchen and talked and his words, among the tears and pregnant pauses of grief, were to remember how she was – vibrant, alive, and full of joy. A gift to those who knew her.
We’ll remember our little buddy the same way.
Fish Michie, keyboard player of The Tangents (Mississippi’s house band): “Orley exemplified my Mississippi. I have an article framed that he wrote about 100 great things about Mississippi. He listed everything from Archie to Clower to George St Happy hour to Charles Evers to the front porches at Neshoba County Fair to Letha’s ribs. He is on my list of the great people of Mississippi.”
Sid Salter, chief communications officer Mississippi State University and syndicated columnist: “I cherished both my friendship and my professional association with Orley Hood. Orley was far more than simply a talented journalist and editor. He was a really gifted writer. He loved Mississippi and in great measure Mississippi loved him back.
“Orley could write politics as well as he could write sports. He was keenly intelligent and quick. He had a marvelous, wry sense of humor. There was a kindness about him. He could really skewer the pompous or the pretentious, but he had a heart for the underdog and the overachiever.
“He really ‘got’ Mississippi. But there was more to Orley than his writing talent and that’s the part that his fans sometimes missed. Orley was really a great father and husband. His family was his life.
“I knew Orley before he married Mary Ann and after, and the man’s life changed when they became a family. He was absolutely silly about the boys and when he spoke of them, his smile went a mile wide – and that’s as boys and as men.
“Finally, from the standpoint of Mississippi State University, our school lost a great fan last night. He loved Bailey Howell, Jack Cristil, Rockey Felker and so many other Bulldog legends. His affinity for MSU never colored his writings – as Coach Emory Bellard could have attested – but his relationship with State went back to a childhood spent listening to Jack Cristil’s radio broadcasts with his dad. He wrote a lot about his old maroon windbreaker and that image will continue to resonate with me and so many other Bulldogs.”
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Orley Hood will be held at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum at 4 p.m. Wednesday. There will be gathering of friends and fans at Hal and Mal’s afterward.