Soon after Laurel Police Chief Tyrone Stewart’s passing in January 2019, his family began the process to endow a scholarship at Jones College in his memory.
Even though Stewart never attended Jones, his family had many connections to the college. His wife, sister, nephew, nieces and cousins attended Jones College. Tyrone’s daughter Jasmine was dually enrolled at Jones College and Northeast Jones High School. His brother Kim is currently a member of the Jones College Campus Police after serving on the Laurel Police force with his brother. The family said they attended their niece Sha’Kira’s graduation at Jones College and were impressed.
Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to Jones County Junior College Foundation, Inc. at 900 South Court Street, Ellisville, MS 39437, or here. Designate donations to the Chief Tyrone Stewart Memorial Scholarship Fund. For information, contact Lee Graham in the JC Foundation Office at 601-477-4145.
“We were amazed to see the tremendous growth and the number of graduates from the Laurel/Jones County area,” said Stewart’s sister Brenda Weathersby. “We feel Jones College has, and will continue to prepare students to be leaders, leaders who will do their part to make positive contributions in the world, and perhaps like Tyrone, make Laurel their home and contribute to the city’s growth and goals; to pay it forward.”
After attending Alabama State University in 1994, Stewart returned to his hometown and worked for the Laurel Police Department for 22 years. Rising through the ranks, Stewart quickly went from patrolman to investigator in three years. As mayor of Laurel in 1999, Susan Vincent promoted Stewart to sergeant, then lieutenant in 2002 and captain in 2005. A year later, newly elected Mayor Melvin Mack promoted Stewart to deputy chief before promoting him to interim chief of the Laurel Police Department in 2011.
The Laurel native and Northeast Jones graduate was officially appointed by Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee in 2012, to chief of the City Beautiful, a position in which faithfully served for eight years.
“His dream was to see his children (Jasmine and Justin) and local children graduate from college, thrive, give back and become leaders. The Chief Tyrone Stewart Memorial Scholarship is being created in his honor to pay tribute to his memory and to keep his legacy alive,” said his wife Catrina Stewart.
Laurel and Jones County public school students majoring in law-related fields, such as criminal justice, law enforcement, forensic science or law, will be eligible for the scholarship. Recipients will also be required to have a 2.5 GPA, participate in extra-curricular activities or sports, volunteer in the community, be of good character and possess leadership abilities. Initially, the family’s goal is to provide two Jones College freshmen each a $500 scholarship and one sophomore a $1,000 scholarship to use for tuition, books, supplies and room and/or board.
While rising through the ranks of the Laurel Police Department, Stewart was recognized by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies for his work in various roles of the department. He was praised by Federal Judge William Barbour for his role involving a double homicide/kidnapping and, in 2006, Stewart’s work helped solve the 1985 murder case of 7-year-old Cookie Dean. All the Laurel mayors Stewart served under had nothing but praise for his work in the community, as well as his leadership.
“He knew how to deal with people, how to diffuse things. He was fair to everybody. He was a good man,” former Mayor Melvin Mack told the Laurel Leader-Call when asked to comment on Stewart’s passing.
Family members said Stewart believed everyone should do their part to leave a positive mark on the city and community. “Home Town” star and Jones alumnae Erin Napier noted in her blog in January 2019, some of Stewart’s contributions. She lauded Stewart for holding toy drives for kids in need at Christmas and giving his personal cell phone number to everyone in town so, “they would always feel taken care of.”
Stewart is also credited with beginning the LPD “Fill-A-Truck” campaign to collect food and monetary donations for the Good Samaritan Food Pantry and he was nominated by the Justice Department as chairman of the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative.
“We hope the scholarship inspires a spirit of giving back and helping others in any way you can,” said Weathersby. “We also hope the scholarship relieves some of the financial concerns that a family or student might have and we hope students looking for a ‘service or public servant’ career will choose a career in the study of law or criminal justice.”