Fans, cohorts remember Orley Hood…

Posted on: February 21,2014

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.”
Link: Orley was an inspiration.
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.

9 responses to “Fans, cohorts remember Orley Hood…”

  1. Paul Smith says:

    I grew up in Jackson from 1976 to 1990. Along the way, indeed every day, I looked in my dad’s (and later, my own) C/L to find Orley’s column. The only exception was when I was an actual C/L delivery boy from 1980-82, when I would read one of my customer’s papers for Orley just before I’d re-fold, and band it for tossin’ on the porch.
    Orley taught me about writing in a way no other teacher, journalist (I became one for a spell), or professor ever did. But I could hardly imitate, much less duplicate his special command over language, even dialect.
    He has already been missed. Now he is deeply mourned. RIP, Orley. I’m sure they’ll syndicate you from Heaven.

  2. Keith Warren says:

    Orley hired me in my second stint at The Clarion-Ledger. He told me, “don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” He was a wonderful boss, and an even better friend.

  3. Pat Patten says:

    To me Orley was the best of the best both in his column and in his heart. Our loss is Heavens gain. He will be greatly missed.

  4. I had been reading Orley long before I knew him, and I loved him even then. When he became a friend, I came to love him more. He was a truly wonderful man.
    Sid Salter and I have been known to have our political disagreements. It is an indication of what a great man Orley Hood was that we agree completely about him.
    And then, there’s this: When I posted a brief tribute to Orley on Facebook this afternoon, one of the “likes” came from Orley Hood! Even when you can’t keep a Good Man down, he sends his approval from “up.”

  5. Brad Chism says:

    Orley was the best conversationalist I ever met. He knew a lot about so many interesting subjects and was genuinely interested in your take on the both the mundane and the absurdities of life. it was always a treat to show up at a BBQ or back porch party and find a spot near Orley. He was never a dilettante or showman nor was he preachy. Just genuinely curious about all manner of life and happy to share his perspective.

  6. Bucky says:

    brad if you are reading this, Mr ground ball, me, and brad grew up with Orley in Vicksburg, he will ever remember your black socks, me too. Although I had not seen him in many many years, I never missed reading orleys columns. His legend will forever permeate my soul. Smile,
    for I know he is telling stories in heaven as we speak.

  7. Fred Anklam says:

    From all those years ago when I worked at the Ledger and he was at the Daily News, I remember most the way his eyes lit up and the smile spread over his face when he was about to get you with a joke or a story. He had such a joy for newspapering and even though he worked at the other paper, there was no competing with Orley. He might not be the first one on a story, but when he wrote about it he got it all right — all the little ins and outs and bits of humanity that make up life. He was fun to read. You could feel the excitement that he had in finding something out and just putting out his version of it. What a loss. What a treasure that we had him so long at just the right place to entertain and inform us all. God bless you, Orley!

  8. Rick Cleveland says:

    From Mickey Spagnola in Dallas:
    There are certain people in your life you never forget. Orley Hood was one of them. He was my boss. He was my friend. That’s always a hard double. Why it’s been nearly 30 years since I left the Jackson Daily News for Dallas to continue my sports writing career, and when I look back, and I’ve seen this word thrown out liberally since Orley passed away, it was working for the Daily News that I think I found my soul as a writer, figuring out it was OK to look at things a tad differently, to not be afraid to bare my own. I’m guessing Orley rubbed off on me.
    There are also some flashbacks that are alive as yesterday. I remember my first spring in Jackson loading into Orley’s old jalopy (Mercedes I think), heading down to New Orleans for something they called Jazz Fest. Who knew you could have so much fun. Windows down, tape in, we’re singing Allman Brothers at the top of our lungs, Ramblin’ Man. His grin was priceless. Then the one of many times at George Street, sitting there over beers, both having been totally enamored by one of the waitresses who knew our names, me trying to convince Orley to finally ask her out. Come on Orley, she likes you. Told him if he didn’t I would. He did. Mary Ann said yes, and you guys know the rest of that story.
    Seems I’ve been saying this a lot lately. Too many times. But how lucky are we to have known someone worth shedding tears over in the end.

  9. Rick Cleveland says:

    From Lee “Scoop” Ragland
    In my former life as a newspaper man I marveled at (and envied) Orley’s talents. In the early 1980s we worked on the Jackson Daily News sport staff, which produced the afternoon paper. Orley would stroll in about 5:30 a.m. with brief case in hand and often uncertain of that day’s column topic. “O” would grab a cup of coffee, sit down at his keyboard and about 45 minutes later finish a piece that rest of us would read and think “Damn, I just wish I could write ONE column like that.” He did it three days a week.
    The only drawback was being told to give Orley’s column “a read” and make any needed edits. Yeah right. It was telling someone who paints by numbers to touch up a Picasso.The man could just flat out write a column.

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