2018 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Bryan, Blount, Burton

Senate Concurrent Resolution 658

(As Adopted by Senate)


     WHEREAS, it is with extreme sadness that we share the news that Wayne Sims "Joe" Rutherford passed away on December 26, 2017.  Joe was one of Mississippi's most prominent Journalists and was a leading light in our state.  Joe Rutherford's editorial voice helped define the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's mission and leadership role for four decades.  He was 69; and

     WHEREAS, Rutherford, who as a small child chose to have himself called Joe, enjoyed a career with the Daily Journal that spanned 44 years, most of that time as Editorial Page Editor after stints as a Reporter and Managing Editor.  From the early 1980s until his retirement at the end of 2016, Joe wrote most of the unsigned opinions that represented the Daily Journal's institutional viewpoint; and

     WHEREAS, his editorials on education, transportation and other critical issues influenced many public policy debates at the local, regional and state levels through the years.  He was widely admired across the political spectrum as a knowledgeable and fair-minded writer; and

     WHEREAS, in addition to his role as an Award-Winning Journalist, Joe was a mentor to countless young journalists and a dear and loyal friend to many, both at the newspaper and in the wider Tupelo and Northeast Mississippi community.  For many years he was the institutional memory of the Daily Journal and the go-to person for his friends and colleagues when they wanted to know more about any person or place related to the area.  His memory was astounding and he loved to recount the details for a willing audience; and

     WHEREAS, Joe's life was grounded in a profound faith.  He had a deep interest in theology and its implications for both public and private life.  Born February 12, 1948, in Corinth, he was the only child of Lora Sims Rutherford and Odell Rutherford.  He graduated from Ripley High School and was especially proud of a brief time he studied at Oxford, England.  He also was a loyal and stout supporter of his alma mater, the University of Mississippi; and

     WHEREAS, the child of educators, Joe had a keen interest in the state of education for Mississippi's children and staunchly supported many efforts to improve and more fully fund the state's public school system.  He won numerous honors for news and feature writing.  In addition to writing daily editorials, Joe, who once considered attending seminary, took great care in crafting religious-themed opinions in Saturday's editions.  He enjoyed talking about his longtime associations with iconic Journal Leaders George and Anna Keirsey McLean, as well as Tupelo visionary Jack Reed, Sr., and took their community development tenets to heart about the future of his home region; and

     WHEREAS, a devoted member of First Presbyterian Church in Tupelo, Joe taught Sunday School and for many years was active on the Hospitality Committee, especially in organizing events and cooking food for them.  He was an Eagle Scout and a dedicated supporter of the Scouting Movement; and

     WHEREAS, in addition to his friend Jim High, Joe is survived by first cousins:  Ann Heard Downing of Dunwoody, Georgia; Mickey Rutherford of Meridian; and Mevelyn Baxter of Hernando; and a goddaughter, Margaret Bardwell McDaniel of New Orleans, Louisiana; and

     WHEREAS, Joe Rutherford's life made a difference through the editorials he wrote influencing opinion not only in Northeast Mississippi, but throughout the state; and we pay tribute and cherish fondly the memory of this most public-spirited citizen and Journalist of Mississippi who will be missed:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby mourn the passing of prominent Mississippi Journalist Wayne Sims "Joe" Rutherford, recognizing his legacy and extending the condolences of the Legislature to his family.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to the surviving family of Joe Rutherford forwarded to the Editor of the Tupelo Daily Journal, and made available to the Capitol Press Corps.