On Wednesday morning, Jan. 6, 2021, two days before her 79th birthday, Hester Robertson Pitts passed away from the effects of COVID-19.
Hester was born in 1942 in Kosciusko, where her father worked as a deputy sheriff until getting a job in the shipyards in Pascagoula. After living there for several years, the family moved back to Hester’s grandparents’ home in Sallis, and her daddy resumed his job as a deputy sheriff.
Hester attended Sallis School until it closed after her 10th-grade year. She then moved to Kosciusko High School, where she was a star basketball player with a vicious hook shot. She was voted friendliest girl and was FHA Sweetheart Queen. She was also vice president of her senior class.
After high-school graduation, Hester attended Holmes Junior College, where she was on the homecoming court and voted most popular. She then spent 15 months at Mercy Hospital in Vicksburg for a Delta State College internship. After, she returned to Delta State and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology.
While interning in Vicksburg, Hester met Kerry Pitts on a blind date. They planned on a tennis date, but it rained, so they went to the Joy Theater and saw “The Island of Love.” Was it an Omen of things to come? Hester said it was the best blind date she ever had. She completed her internship December 1963 and returned home to start her final semester at Delta State. Kerry was a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (and had a red Buick convertible), which caught Hester’s eye.
By this time, she and Kerry decided this was serious and began making plans for a June wedding.
They were married June 21, 1964, the longest (and hottest) day of the year. Following the wedding and reception in Hester’s home, they left for a honeymoon trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Upon return, they moved into a small Clinton apartment. Hester obtained a job at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, working in the renal diseases department. Every morning she left for her job in Jackson; Kerry left for his job in Vicksburg, and they met back home each night.
In 1967, Kerry was selected to attend a special planning program in Washington, D.C., and the couple moved for a year. While in Washington, their son Barry (Barry Bird) was born. Later, they moved back to Mississippi and settled in Vicksburg, since Hester would no longer be working. Their daughter Paige was born in 1971.
Hester used her time to work with the school system and the Salvation Army. She also taught Sunday School at First Baptist Church of Vicksburg and served on the church’s Executive Committee. When Paige turned 13, Hester decided to go back to work as a medical technologist and got a job at Kuhn Hospital, a charity hospital in Vicksburg. She worked for free for six months until she got her skills back up to date.
After several years, the hospital closed, and Hester got a job at the Tallulah, Louisiana, hospital. After working there for several years, she was selected as lab director. She loved the work and helped the hospital gain financial stability. Because of her work there, she got out-of-state tuition waived for both Barry and Paige to go to pharmacy school at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe.
In her spare time, she got First Baptist Church involved with the Operation Christmas Child shoebox ministry, a program of Samaritan’s Purse. From a humble beginning of only 150 shoebox gifts, Hester led Vicksburg/Warren County to a total of more than 6,000 shoebox gifts.
When Dr. Dan Edney initiated a free medical clinic at the church, Hester was excited to participate. She eventually became Clinic Administrator and led 50 volunteers in caring for 75 or more patients each month. She also served on the Mississippi Disaster Relief team. With her passion for missions, she was blessed to go with medical teams to Iraq, Honduras and Haiti. The people of Haiti called her “Queen Hester.”
Following her retirement from medical work, Hester and Kerry enjoyed traveling all over the country in their motor home. They camped in 45 of the lower 48 states over 13 years. After they gave up camping, they took cruises in Europe, China, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Most recently they traveled to Cancun, Mexico, for a weeklong stay at an all-inclusive resort.
She and Kerry never gave in to the paranoia of COVID-19, living life as normal as possible and enjoying their relationship as best friends for life, proud parents and grandparents.
Hester was preceded in death by her parents, Hubert and Virginia Robertson; and her two sisters, Carolyn Johnson and Betty Jo Buford.
Hester is survived by her husband of 56 years, Kerry; a son, Barry, his wife, Kim, and their, children, Luke and Tyler; a daughter, Paige, and her husband, Patrick, and their children, Emily and Reid. She is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews whom she loved dearly.
In lieu of food or flowers, Hester’s wishes were for donations made to the Renewal House Ministry of Vicksburg, the Medical/Dental Ministry of First Baptist Church of Vicksburg or Operation Christmas Child.
A private family service will be held at Glenwood Funeral Home Saturday morning, followed by a private family graveside service at Greenlawn Gardens Cemetery.
This life story would not be complete without the knowledge that at the moment Hester drew her last breath, in the twinkling of an eye her soul/spirit immediately joined Jesus in heaven where he had gone to prepare a place for her. God is Great, God is Good.