By Jackie Hampton,
It was Saturday evening, May 10, that I received the unexpected news that our online editor had passed away. I was extremely saddened and shocked as I realized why Lonnie Ross had not returned my telephone calls or responded to numerous text messages. I checked our web site and realized our stories had not been updated for several days. This was not typical of Lonnie Ross, the employee.
As I remember Lonnie, I’m reminded of a quote from the American inventor, Thomas A. Edison, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always try just one more time.”
One can never say that Lonnie ever gave up the fight. If he had known that there was one more thing that The Mississippi Link needed him to complete before his transition, he probably would have asked God to give him just a little more time to complete that last task. That’s the kind of employee he was.
Ayesha Mustafaa, a former editor at The Link said, “When I began work at The Mississippi Link, I became acquainted with Lonnie Ross, the online editor and webmaster. He had great ideas and great plans to draw on the resources of the broader community and bring those ideas and plans to a realistic fruition. He was a “people’s person” – striking up friendships nearly instantly. Then he could sing and play piano. Wow, Lonnie’s talent knew no boundaries. He was impressive and left a deep impression with his multifaceted experiences and abilities.”
It seemed that everyone at The Mississippi Link thought Lonnie was smart and extremely capable, always happy to assist wherever and whenever needed. Shanderia Posey, another former editor, was no exception.
“During my time as editor, I knew Lonnie to be a trusted colleague dedicated to his work. He shared tips with me on how to manage the paper’s website and he promptly addressed concerns I had whenever they arose. My heart goes out to his loved ones for their sudden and tragic loss,” Posey said.
He could be counted on to go above and beyond expectations. Gail Brown was the first Mississippi Link editor to work with him.
“I enjoyed working with Lonnie because of his dedication toward his work. When I discovered a blooper or an error in one of my on-line articles, all I had to do was call, text or email Lonnie any time, day or night, and he would immediately correct it for me. Another thing I admired about Lonnie was his devotion to family. He did not hesitate to tell us when something we wanted him to do conflicted with his family’s plan. Yet he often found a way to get what we wanted done. I will remember him as a soldier of his profession and ministry.”
Orhor Cain, current editor, echoes other’s setiments of Lonnie’s gifts. “I’m reminded of Proverbs 18: 16 where it reads ‘a man’s gift opens doors for him and brings him before great men.’ His gifts did just that; it gave him an extremely high profile in several professional circles. He will be missed.”
Lonnie was very friendly and always greeted everyone with a smile. He was quite knowledgeable on many subjects and was happy to share that knowledge, solicited or unsolicited. If we asked him a question regarding almost anything, we could always count on an answer. Never would he say ‘I don’t know.”
“Lonnie’s presence at The Mississippi Link was welcomed and assuring because he had the answers. He could have easily become overwhelmed by our repeated questions but his smile was ever present during his exhaustive tutorials. There were times when challenges and frustrations of life surfaced but he had a way of talking it out, moving on and leaving it in the hands of the Lord. He loved his family and was proudest when he talked about his children,” said Minnie Garrett, copy editor.
Lonnie brought stories about his children into the office. With twelve children, he had plenty of stories to tell. If they were happy, he was happy; and if they had problems, he went into a problem-solving mode, especially as it related to the three youngest children. The staff got to known Isaiah, Ramyia and Aaron when their mom, Youlander, on occasion, would visit the office.
Another quote that reminded me of Lonnie was written by an anonymous writer: “If a task is once begun, never leave it ‘till it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.”
Marcus Johnson, our layout designer said, “I grew to learn that Lonnie was a very optimistic and ambitious person. I don’t think I ever saw him consider a task too small or too large for his attention. Like all of us, I know his family will miss his determination and versatility.”
Lonnie touched many individuals that worked with The Mississippi Link, past and present.
Pat Neal, who worked several years with Lonnie in her capacity as director of New South Development and Training, said, “I knew Lonnie as a co-worker and a musician at our church, Sweet Water Missionary Baptist Church in Flowood, MS. Lonnie would often offer advice and share his life experiences with us. Lonnie’s smile and happy go lucky spirit will be missed.”
We will miss Lonnie. He juggled many jobs at ‘The Link.’ He was a marketing representative, event planner, online editor, web designer, writer and a Mississippi Link team player for the volunteer work we provide to the community.
See Remembering Lonnie page 5.