Merigold woman to be honored with Howorth Award
Jan 24, 2014 | 2182 views | 0 0 comments | 29 29 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Delta State University Archives and Museum will host the Lucy Somerville Howorth Award ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives and Museum Building.

Recipients of the award must have demonstrated a passion and drive for the advancement of women, political enlightenment and equity for women.

The recipient must also be a woman who has promoted the Delta in a positive way and Mary Thelma Morehead Rayner of Merigold encompassed all of those outstanding qualities to receive this award.

Clay Rayner believed that his mother was an outstanding woman and nominated her for this prestigious award.

According to Clay, his mother was active in civic affairs and led a group of women that made bandages for wounded veterans in World War II and donated them to the American Red Cross.

In addition, she wrote encouraging letters to many of the service men from Merigold that were serving in the war.

When a German prisoner of war camp was established in Merigold in 1943, Rayner took it upon herself to make sure that the prisoners were treated humanely, fed well and received appropriate medical care.

She forged friendships with these men and exchanged letters with their families after the war ended.

"I believe that it is important to note that throughout her life she was a devout Episcopalian and always an active member of Cleveland's Calvary Episcopal Church," said Clay.

Rayner was also an avid reader that saw the need for a public library in the town of Merigold to promote education for women, men and children.

It became a passion of hers in 1933, during the height of the Great Depression; she established a small library for the Merigold community over the Speakes Store.

Although books were scare, Rayner convinced the town's mayor and the board of alderman to give her five dollars a month to purchase books.

To increase the library holdings, she reached out to number of charitable groups, such as the Lend A Hand Book Mission.

Rayner wrote two letters to these groups, convincing them to donate books.

Soon, the library outgrew the space about the store and the American Legion Meeting Hall was converted into a new library facility.

The library is now named Thelma Morehead Rayner Memorial Library.

"Considering the contributions she made to the small town of Merigold during the Great Depression, through wartime and beyond – I believe she exemplifies the characteristics of a strong, caring and dedicated woman of the Delta that the Howorth Award seeks to acknowledge," he added.

The event is open to the public.