By Dottie Dewberry For the WPT
MABEN — What do you do after you retire? Well, you write a book about your life, your family and all the many things that you have lived through and have survived to tell the tale.
Somewhere around the second of February, Maury Shurlds met with his publisher, Sylvia Higginbotham, to finalize the plans for putting his book on the shelf in bookstores, in the stacks in libraries, on the shelf in your home and in boutiques across the state. This comes after a protracted amount of time working on his memoirs and getting them in legible form (typed).
Shurlds will best be remembered as an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Mississippi State University, where he taught for 20 years. He retired from MSU in 1985. He will also be remembered as being the husband to Mildred Shurlds, who herself was a beloved local teacher.
Shurlds was educated at Emory and Yale universities, where he majored in civil engineering and minored in mathematics. He taught mathematics for 19 years in public schools before he started teaching at MSU. He taught 14 years of those 19 in his hometown — Tchula.
Maury resides out in rural Webster County, fairly close to the town of Maben, where he spends much time fishing.
Higginbotham — executive director of the Columbus Arts Council, a professional writer and now a publisher — is from rural Jones County. She has spent most of her life writing articles about places and people for more than 100 newspapers, magazines and travel publications. These include the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and many others.
She was awarded the 1994 Mississippi Governor’s Travel Media Award for Travel Writing; she also won the Governor’s Award for Tourism Achievement in 1986. Before she moved back to Mississippi, Higginbotham worked for television stations and public relations firms in Shreveport and Lafayette, La.
At this time, the two are planning the book jacket cover, the possible date of publication (April or May) and availability for sale in stores date.
The book is an autobiographical work about the Shurlds-Phillips families; his wife’s families, Harpole-Freeman; and how the author, his wife and children fit into these people’s lives.
It has stories about the author growing up near Tchula, and about his and his wife’s return to Tchula to their home place after teaching in Vaiden. It also covers the births of their children: Maury Shurlds Jr., Marcia Shurlds McGlohn, Henry W. Shurlds III and Dudley F. Shurlds.
One part of the book gives a factual account of Maury’s brother, Henry W. Shurlds Jr., his military career and his death during World War II.
Included in the 500-page manuscript titled “Memories” are stories of trips and delightful stories about his family and other relatives. According to Shurlds, there are human interest stories and some surprising events that will tickle your funny bone. He has included oral accounts of humorous tales from the 1930s to the 1960s.
As with all life, there will be the inevitable tragedies that come into everyone’s life and how these problems are resolved. Sometimes help comes from surprising sources.
Last, but not least, Mr. Shurlds takes a stand on patriotism, integration of races and the miracles that happened in his life.
What a wonderful way to spend your retirement years: remembering the past.