Nelma Ivey, a native of Overton, Texas fondly remembers raising her children in Kosciusko and being involved in many organizations with her husband, Marlin Ivey. She recently made a generous donation for the renovation of the Skipworth Performing Arts Center.
After graduating from Overton High School, Nelma Ivey began her first semester at Kilgore Community College in Overton.
Ivey said she was an active freshman at the university and got A’s. She was also a member of Kilgore College’s famed Rangerettes precision dance team.
“It was so much fun,” Ivey recalled. “While I was a freshman, my dad worked for Marathon Oil Company and was transferred to a field south of Hattiesburg.”
After her freshman year of college, she traveled to Hattiesburg to see her parents. She had intended to go to the University of Texas for her sophomore year of college, but the unexpected happened.
“I got seriously ill,” she said. “I mean, it started off as just the stomach bug.”
Due to Ivey’s condition, her doctor decided to admit her to the hospital. According to Ivey, her illness was caused by the heavy burden she imposed on herself during her first year at Kilgore.
Nelma’s parents felt that the best solution would be to stay in Hattiesburg until she could recover her health. Then she could pursue her plans to go to the University of Texas.
“I was a very docile girl,” Ivey said. “So I said to my parents, ‘Okay, I can do this. “”
She decided to return to school after spending some time recovering, and the University of Southern Mississippi was nearby. Her first term at Southern Miss was the same year she met Kosciusko’s Marlin Ivey.
The moment they met, Nelma said she realized that everything that had happened to her before that moment was divinely orchestrated by God.
“I met him that first trimester,” she said, and we just started dating and then we got married.”
Marlin Ivey grew up in Kosciusko. After the two got married and graduated from Southern Miss University, they had their first child, Joe.
In October 1958, the Ivey family made the decision to return to Marlin’s hometown. Marlin’s father, Kermit, a native of Kosciusko, owned Ivey Mechanical.
“We moved so he could work at his dad’s business,” Ivey said of her husband. “When he started working for the company, it was just his father and three other people.”
During the first year after the Iveys moved to Kosciusko, Nelma was a stay-at-home mom to her firstborn. A year later, Marlin fell ill with hepatitis and was unable to work, so Nelma began teaching junior and senior English at Ethel High School.
According to Ivey, her husband was unable to work for six to eight months and during that time he thought a lot about Ivey Mechanical and what he wanted the company to be.
“The business has been very successful,” she says.
By 1959, Ivey Mechanical had over 3,000 employees, and Nelma and Marlin had their second child, Lori.
Both Joe and Lori Ivey attended schools in Kosciusko and participated in the Big Red Band. Ivey mentioned that Joe took a band in sixth grade and played saxophone and Lori was in the band until her senior year as a flautist.
Growing up in Texas, Nelma has always been able to express herself creatively. She loved art, reading, music and literature, and let her children use their own creative abilities in whatever they decided to do.
Between mother, teacher and full-time wife, she has also served many organizations in Kosciusko. Nelma was founding president of Fun, president of the Mississippi Arts Council, president of the Attala Historical Society, president of the Diamond Walk, member of the 21stCentury Club and more. She was even voted Outstanding Citizen of Attala County in 1985.
“I loved living in Kosciusko and never felt like a newcomer,” she said. “When my husband died in 2011, we had been married for 55 years and most of the time we were in Kosciusko.”
Nelma said her son Joe, a teacher in Nashville, Tennessee, and her daughter Lori, who lives in Gluckstadt, also enjoy living in Kosciusko.
Kosciusko and its citizens meant a lot to the Ivey family. When Nelma heard about the renovations to the old junior high auditorium, she knew she wanted to help, even though she now lives in Jackson. Kosciusko and the fine arts will always be special to her.
Nelma Ivey has made a generous donation to KFEE to help renovate the Skipworth Center, and she’s thrilled to see its progress.
“It will be a wonderful thing to bring to Kosciusko,” she said. “I think it will be a plus for this region.
She is grateful that her donation benefits the arts in Kosciusko and is happy to see that the community still cares about the performing arts.