|Leland Garland Mims|
Member of the Webster Parish
|Preceded by||G. Calhoun Garland|
|Succeeded by||Morris W. McClary|
President of the Webster Parish
|Born|| February 2, 1901|
near Minden, Louisiana
|Died||September 4, 1979|
|Spouse(s)||Rubye Lowe Mims (married 1925-1975, her death)|
|Children||Linda Lee Mims Martin|
Leland Garland Mims (February 7, 1901 – September 4, 1979) was a businessman and civic leader from Minden, Louisiana, who served from 1953 to 1976 as a member of the Webster Parish Police Jury, equivalent to county commissioner in other states. He was the jury president of the body from 1956 to 1973. He was also the elected president of the Police Jury Association of Louisiana from 1965 to 1967 and served for several years as well on the executive committee of the statewide organization. On October 5, 1976, Minden observed "Leland Mims Day".
Webster Parish Police Jury
In February 1953, Governor Robert F. Kennon, also a former Minden mayor, appointed Mims to the police jury, the 12-member parish governing council, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Mims' distant cousin, G. Calhoun Garland. At the time, the members were elected at-large by wards. Mims campaigned door-to-door in each Democratic primary election, beginning in 1956. He usually led the field with a healthy majority. Four members were elected from the former Ward 4, which covered the immediate Minden area. A Ward 4 colleague, businessman William N. "Nick" Love (1909-2000), was also a strong votegetter in police jury races. The lower-polling candidates wound up either being defeated outright or placed into runoff elections among themselves. During his tenure on the police jury, Mims ultimately served on each committee. He was the third vice-president, then second vice-president, and first vice-president of state Police Jury Association, headquartered in Baton Rouge. He served from April 20, 1965, to April 2, 1967, as the president of the state organization, the only Webster Parish juror thus far to have headed the association. In 1973, partly as a result of health problems of his wife, Mims relinquished the police jury presidency to the first vice-president Morris W. McClary (1917-1988) of Sarepta. When he, and McClary as well, retired from the body in 1976, the Police Jury Association of the Fourth Congressional District adopted a resolution recognizing Mims for his “excellent, energetic, and intelligent service."
James Tenney "Jim" Branch, Sr. (1927-2010), a Minden businessman originally from St. Louis, Missouri, who succeeded McClary as jury president and himself lost the 1982 race for Minden mayor to Noel Byars, said that he had "never known any juror [Mims] to be more honest, sincere, and knowledgeable ... Years ago, the jury found itself to be in bad financial shape. Then he became president, and today it is in great shape due to the financial abilities of Mr. Mims." In addition to his watch over fiscal matters, Mims took an interest in all parish roads, including some of the lesser-travelled ones. He made sure that all such thoroughfares were well-maintained and that planning be undertaken before new roads were authorized. Daughter Linda Lee Martin (October 4, 1937 – January 23, 2011) recalled her father being a "people person. He really loved people and enjoyed working with them. He spoke with plain words and from the heart. He was easy-going and a peacemaker by nature, but he never hesitated to take a stand for what he believed was right."
Mims served until July 1, 1976, having declined to seek another term in the single-member District 8 seat created earlier by court-ordered reapportionment. Outgoing Webster Parish Clerk of Court Clarence D. Wiley was handily elected to succeed Mims, but Wiley never joined the panel, having died as police juror-elect four months before he was to have taken office. Instead a special election was held, and the Webster Parish school administrator, Ralph Lamar Rentz, Sr. (1930-1995), defeated Minden businessman Stewart Covington (1930-1997), later of Doyline in southwestern Webster Parish, by three votes for the right to succeed Leland Mims. Rentz had finished a close third in the 1971 Democratic primary for the Webster Parish seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives, a position won by Judge R. Harmon Drew, Sr., and held at the time by Parey Branton of Shongaloo, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor.
Early years and education
Mims was born in the Evergreen community of central Webster Parish, located southwest of Shongaloo and north of Minden, to Henry Nathaniel Mims (February 3, 1851 – June 25, 1900) and the former Ella Olivia Garland (July 31, 1859 – May 25, 1920). A successful farmer, Henry Mims, died suddenly at the age of forty-nine, some seven months before his wife gave birth to Leland. Henry Mims was a native of the Darlington district of South Carolina; Ella, from nearby Sumter County in central South Carolina. Henry and Ella are interred at Pine Grove Cemetery north of Minden. Leland Mims was the youngest of seven children; his oldest sister was already nineteen when Leland was born. The second youngest sibling was seven years Leland's senior. The older siblings were more like surrogate parents or doting aunts and uncles than brothers and sisters, and Leland was close to all of them, recalled daughter Linda Martin.
Mims graduated in 1921 from Minden High School. He was the athletic editor of the yearbook, The Grig, a member of the football, track and field, and basketball teams as well as the basketball captain. Among his MHS classmates were the artist Ben Earl Looney and the future Minden educator Kirtley J. Miles (1904-1993). After high school, Mims attended Louisiana Tech University, then Louisiana Polytechnic Institute in Ruston, on an athletic scholarship, but he did not graduate. He then ran a store for a period of time.
Business and civic affairs
Thereafter, Mims headed the sales department for the former Standard Chevrolet Company, then owned by banker Castle O. Holland (1895-1981) and businessman Earl Long (1898-1980, no relation to Louisiana Governor Earl Kemp Long; some thirteen years later, Mims opened his own used-car business. At times he was in business with M.O. "Mop" Powell and Thomas Cameron Bloxom, Sr. (1896-1978), the father of the former Minden police chief and fire chief. Mims' operation was first on Pearl Street across from the former Joy Theater and thereafter on East Union Street. Mims was named Minden Man of the Year in 1960. He was an honorary lifetime Boy Scout and an active member of the Masonic lodge. Though he had no musical training, Mims sang tenor at band concerts in the park and also in the choir of the First United Methodist Church, of which he was also a member of the board of stewards. Mims was active in the Minden Lions International and was selected "Boss of the Year" by the Business and Professional Women's Club.
The Lowe family
Mrs. Mims, the former Rubye Lowe (February 16, 1904 – March 14, 1975) was the daughter of W. Matt Lowe and the former Clara Hodges (February 5, 1880 – December 29, 1954), a native of Cotton Valley in central Webster Parish. Lowe, a merchant, served as mayor of Minden from 1916 to 1920 and was thereafter a member of the police jury from 1940 to 1954. He died at a Shreveport hospital at the age of eighty-three.
Rubye Lowe Mims procured a teacher's certificate from Louisiana Tech. She taught for a year before the couple married on January 15, 1925. Hence, her father and husband were both police jurors, but their terms coincided only from February 1953 until January 1954. The Mimses resided at 103 Germantown Road. Rubye was a diabetic. She and her husband both died of congestive heart failure four years apart. After Mims' passing, the Germantown Road residence was sold to Minden photographer Stanley B. Quade (1914-2002).
Linda Lee Mims Martin (1937-2011) was in her early years a librarian. She was the only child of Leland and Rubye Mims. She and her husband, Robert Oliver Martin, Jr. (1937-2010), graduated from Minden High School in 1955 and resided in Houston, Texas, at the time of their deaths, some five months apart.
On June 8, 1973, on the occasion of Mims' relinquishing of the police jury presidency after seventeen years, the Minden Press-Herald quoted his advice to aspiring politicians: "The main person that can help you is the Good Lord -- you've got to put Him there. There's not much that can be done unless we give praise to Him and look to Him for guidance."
In 1975, when Mims announced his decision to retire from his jury seat, he told The Press-Herald: "I loved every minute of it. It was the high spot of my life. And I have worked with a lot of good men.” Linda Martin added: "He loved Minden with all his heart -- it was his town!"
The Mimses are interred at Minden Cemetery; Rob and Linda Mims Martin, at the newer Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden.
- Shreveport Journal, October 6, 1976.
- "Mims Will Not Seek Another Term", Minden Press-Herald, undated 1975 article.
- Linda Lee Martin. Minden Press-Herald, January 25, 2011. Retrieved on January 26, 2011.
- Statement of Linda Lee Mims Martin of Houston, Texas, daughter of Leland G. and Rubye Lowe Mims, 2008.
- Louisiana Democratic primary election returns, November and December 1971.
- Mims family records held by the late Linda Mims Martin.
- Minden High School Grig" yearbook, 1920.
- "Respect for the Past: Webster Parish Centennial, 1871-1971, Webster Parish Police Jury, 1971
- "Ex-Mayor of Minden Dies at 83", The Shreveport Times, March 5, 1955.
- Obituary of Robert Oliver Martin, Jr.. Minden Press-Herald. Retrieved on August 17, 2010.
- "Leland Mims: My Time to Bow Out", Editorial, Minden Press-Herald, June 8, 1973, p. 1.