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Hundreds buy mementos of former Miss. first lady at auction

People attending an estate sale Sunday bought more than 1,000 items, from cookbooks to a luxury car, that had belonged to former Mississippi first lady Pat Fordice.

She died on July 12 after a long battle with cancer. She was 72.

Pat Fordice’s husband of more than 40 years, Republican Kirk Fordice, was governor from January 1992 to January 2000. The couple divorced shortly after he left office, and he died in 2004.

A crowd of at least 250 people ogled Pat Fordice’s possessions, strewn across a Columbia Auction Co. warehouse on tables and on the floor. Auction house owner Jennings Gilmore said many were looking for a reminder of a popular public figure.

“People will not buy things so much for their use but as mementos of Ms. Fordice. She was loved and admired throughout the state,” Gilmore said.

Auction pieces were selected after Fordice’s four children and other relatives selected items they wanted to keep.

Acquaintances of the former first lady came to the auction seeking a piece that would remind them of her kindness and hospitality.

“I really just want a memento,” said Hattiesburg resident and watercolor artist Adrianne Penny, who once painted a door at Fordice’s home. “Not because it’s such wonderful stuff, but because it was hers.”

Bidding began with a set of brown legal pad covers in which Pat and Kirk Fordice would scribble notes and dictate letters. The collection of covers sold for $130, pennies compared to the $41,000 spent on Pat Fordice’s silver 2007 Jaguar, the auction’s highest-selling piece.

A box of pillows brought just $5, while a box of cookbooks — some with notes handwritten by Pat Fordice in the margins — sold for $75. Other items of interest included pieces of silver and crystal, framed photos and a signed letter of thanks to the Fordices from President George W. Bush.