Some communities are lucky. Grand Bay is certainly one of those and we are lucky to have so many wonderful people here. One such person is our dear friend Roland Harper. He is one of the first people I met in Grand Bay when I moved here 10 years ago and stopped on the dirt road in front of his house to introduce myself. Roland and I both live on the very southernmost part of Grand Bay.
His lovely 130 year old home was moved from Moss Point. He loves the natural feel ofhis property and enjoys watching the wildlife around him so much that he had his house put on the property backwards with the original front facing the woods. He and his wife of 56 years, Mary Lou, were so warm and welcoming to me I just knew I was going to like it here. Roland warned me about the gnats, skeeters and of course, the yellow flies, but he said, “it is just the cost of living in paradise.”
Roland grew up in our sister city, Moss Point, Mississippi where he attended school. He served in the Air Force in the Korean War and attended college at Ole Miss and Perkinston Jr College before earning his B.S. from Mississippi State in 1959. Roland is a retired Industrial Engineer.
Most of the people who live in Grand Bay know Roland and as some would say he has been round here as long as dirt. What many may not know is that almost every day, for well over a decade, Roland has walked up and down the 4 miles of Potter Tract Road picking up trash. He claims this is his exercise program but he isn’t fooling anyone. Roland is passionate about his community and I bet deep down inside the truth is that this is his way of making Grand Bay a better place for us all. Roland also helps maintain what is known by locals as the “rose garden”, across from the old bank building/post office, where the train depot used to be.
Currently, Mary Lou is slowly on the mend from the fight of her life with pneumonia. It will take some time but it sounds like things are moving in a positive way. We need to keep pulling for, praying for and expressing our love for her and Roland and their entire family. One of the simple things you and your family can do is help take over some of the roadway responsibilities Roland has imposed on himself, at least until the health issues can level out.
I would like to thank those who have already started to pitch in. Volunteers have been picking up trash and an anonymous landscape crew (individuals, not a company) trim and mow the “rose garden” area.
I would like to ask all Grand Bay residents to do a couple of things, first dispose of your trash properly and second walk out in front of your property and pick up any debris you may find. In fact you might follow Roland’s workout routine and pick up in front of your neighbors as well.
One thing for sure when we work together as a community we can accomplish great things.
Oh, I wanted to give a special shout out to whoever was responsible for the over two dozen Wild Irish Rose wine bottles that were picked up by volunteers between the 4 way stop and the railroad tracks on Potter Tract Road. You really have the Spirit (or Spirits) in you. Perhaps you could drop those bottles in the green trash can across from the old post office, you know the one provided by Roland Harper!
Submitted by Kimon Brown
Edited to note shortly after the publication of this article Roland lost his beautiful wife and life companion. We as a community will always miss her.