Farmers market named for longtime Extension agent

The extended family of Ruby D. Rankin, 1960-2017, gathered last week to celebrate the dedication of the local farmers market in honor of her 33 years as a community leader with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. PHOTO: Kevin Hudson | MSU Extension Service

For 33 years, Ruby D. Rankin was the face of the Mississippi State University Extension Service in Kemper County, and her sudden death in early May surprised and saddened the local community.

More than 100 people gathered at a building dedication ceremony last Monday [July 17] in the Extension office in Kemper County to honor Rankin's life, service and impact on local individuals, various organizations and the entire community. The Kemper County Board of Supervisors honored Rankin's many accomplishments by naming the local farmers market in her honor.

“She was an excellent Extension agent; in fact, she was a model agent,” said Extension Director Gary B. Jackson, one of several Extension administrators who, alongside Rankin’s family and friends, packed the room to capacity. “She was an excellent public servant who always worked to improve the quality of life of others, and she gave her knowledge, wisdom, time and, at times, her own money to help.”

District 4 Supervisor Michael Luke listed a few of the groups Rankin’s work impacted, including the local homemakers’ club, the cattlemen’s association, the timber association and Relay for Life.

“Everyone in here knows what she did: She’d be the first one there and the last one to leave. She was always there, serving. It wasn’t just one thing; it was many things. I just can’t say enough about the role she played in our lives and our community,” Luke said.

Sherline D. Watkins, another speaker, also emphasized Rankin’s reputation of encouraging people to work together to make the county, state and world better.

“We can all attest to the fact that Ruby was truly dedicated and committed to this community, to her job and to her church,” said Shelia A. Newton, the master of ceremonies. “She provided the leadership that was necessary for the programs that were under her supervision to run in an effective and efficient manner.”

The Ruby D. Rankin Farmers Market Building is part of the Kemper County Extension Office, located at 587 Old Scooba Road.

Leah Barbour | MSU Extension Service

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