diagnosis of cancer at age 33 did not lessen Robbie Cockerham Lightsey's
commitment to teaching, nor did it force the Laurel schoolteacher
from her classroom. Even while undergoing chemotherapy during the
next 28 years of her life, she persevered with a cheerful and loving
spirit, retiring from teaching in 2000 with more than 20 years of
service. Next fall, a scholarship at The University of Southern
Mississippi will continue Lightsey's legacy in education.
Robbie Cockerham Lightsey Education Scholarship will be awarded
to elementary education majors at Southern Miss with preference
given to someone from Jones County. It is an appropriate tribute
to Robbie's career as a first-grade teacher and to her dedication
to her home county.
loved children and spent years motivating them as a teacher,"
said Charles Lightsey, her husband of 42 years. "She was a
great witness to her faith and had a great attitude during her lengthy
touched the lives of more than 500 students during her career, inspiring
many of them to become teachers themselves. As she bravely fought
cancer and endured the effects of chemotherapy, she continued to
teach all who knew her a valuable lesson-a lesson in faith.
native of Greenville, Miss., Robbie first came to the university
one summer while in high school to attend band camp and later returned
to study education. Her choice of education was not surprising.
Both her mother and aunt had been teachers during the early 1900s.
served on the yearbook staff and belonged to the BSU, Alpha Delta
Honorary Society, Phi Alpha honorary history society; served as
president of Delta Delta Delta sorority; and was selected for Who's
Who in American Colleges and Universities. She also met Charles
Lightsey while the two were students.
graduated from Southern Miss in 1962, and taught in Memphis, and
then at Laurel Christian School in Laurel. She was active in Jones
County civic organizations, including the Tallahala DAR Chapter,
the Northwood Garden Club and the Laurel Junior Auxiliary. She taught
Sunday school at First Baptist Church and volunteered at South Central
Regional Medical Center.
years at Southern Miss were some of the best times of our lives,"
said Charles, a 1961 alumnus. "This scholarship in memory of
Robbie is a tremendous way to pass on to others her love of education
and of teaching."
Lightsey studied real estate and management at Southern Miss. For
40 years he worked with the Social Security Administration, and
retired as district manager in Laurel in 2000. Today he is a disability
representative and Social Security consultant.
Lightseys have two children. Debbie Lightsey McKinley, 39, majored
in banking and finance and graduated from the university in 1985.
She and her husband, Jonathan, also a Southern Miss alumnus, reside
in Laurel where she works as an accountant at Robison Tire Company.
The Lightseys' younger daughter, Sarah, 35, works for the Social
Security Administration in Mobile.
families like the Lightseys play a critical role in advancing the
work of the university," said Ben Samel, development officer
for the College of Education and Psychology. "Thanks to this
scholarship, Robbie's love for education and teaching will become
a lasting legacy."
can be contacted at 266-5481 for more information on establishing
scholarships at The University of Southern Mississippi.