Funeral services announced for former Sumrall Police Chief

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Longtime Sumrall Police Chief Willie James Preston will be buried on Saturday after he died earlier this week.

Preston, who was the town’s first black police officer and served as police chief for 17 years, was honored earlier this year when the Mississippi Legislature named a part of Mississippi Hwy. 589 in his honor.

McSwain & Myers Funeral Services, LLC is in charge of the services. No other details were available before the press deadline.

Sumrall Mayor Heath Sumrall said Preston’s name was synonymous with the Sumrall Police Department for many years, mainly because he was the only officer for a period of time.

“He was a really good man,” Sumrall said. “He kind of held it together by himself. He was quite a man in his day.”

Sumrall said Preston also worked in other areas of the town, working to keep things running smoothly.

“He also helped with the water crews repairing leaks and working on the streets,” he said.

House Bill 907 was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant in April to honor some Mississippians who made outstanding contributions to their communities. The stretch of road named after Preston begins at the Lamar County and Covington County line and extends to the intersection of Mississippi Hwy. 42.

Preston worked for Sumrall for about 37 years, according to reports.

He retired in 2010 after suffering a stroke and later being hospitalized in New Orleans.

State Sen. Willie Simmons of Cleveland, chairman of the Senate Highway and Transportation Committee, said Sens. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall and Billy Hudson and John Polk, both of Hattiesburg, made the request to have the highway named for Preston.

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