Late Poplarville editor honored by press association

Published 5:58 pm Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The late Murphy Weir had his 34 year career as owner, editor and publisher of the local paper, The Weekly Democrat (currently Poplarville Democrat) recognized by his peers when he was officially inducted into the Mississippi Press Association’s Hall of Fame this past June.

Kenneth “Butch” Weir, Weir’s son and current editor of The Poplarville Democrat, and Patricia “Pat” Wilkes, Weir’s daughter, accepted the Hall of Fame plaque from MPA president, Tom Andrews.

This was not the first such honor for Murphy Weir.

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For his efforts in journalism he won numerous state and national awards during his 34-year career. Under his guidance, the paper was named as the top weekly paper in the state in 1951 when it received the General Excellence Award from the Mississippi Press Association.

Originally from Newton, Miss., Weir began his career in journalism at an early age. In high school, he went to work for the local paper in Newton. During his tenure as a student at Mississippi State University, he worked on the campus newspaper for two years, one of those years as editor.

Upon graduation, Weir worked several jobs but eventually landed back in the newspaper field. In 1938, he purchased the archaic newspaper, the Newton County News in Decatur.

Pat Weir said that what her dad essentially purchased was a hand-typed “primitive newsletter.”

“The shop had a dirt floor and it just needed so much,” she said. Without a family vehicle at the time, Weir hitchhiked to Arkansas to purchase a used Linotype, the popular typesetting machine of the time, to get the paper going. However, with three competing papers, the venture fell flat, and in 1940 Weir felt compelled to move on.

Weir purchased The Weekly Democrat and made the move to Poplarville with his family that same year.

People around Poplarville and in the county probably best remember Weir for his positive editorials, the down-home comments of his Just Ramblin’s column and his well-reasoned and insightful comments on local, state and national topics.

“My dad was more interested in presenting the positive that happened in the town and in the county,” said his son.

After moving to Poplarville, Weir wasted no time in meeting people. Over the years he laughed with them, mourned with them, took pride in their accomplishments — all through the written word, Butch Weir said.

Murphy Weir early on became involved in civic affairs, particularly as a member of the Poplarville Rotary Club and the First United Methodist Church. One of his many achievements includes being named Poplarville Citizen of the Year in 1960.

Pat Wilkes remembers her father, the man behind the writings. “He was an idealistic kind of person, loved people, slow to anger, fast to state his opinion. You couldn’t run over him. He was a gentleman, a real sweet man,” she said.

In 1975 Weir sold The Weekly Democrat to a firm in Tuscaloosa, Ala., which also owned the Picayune Item, right around his retirement in 1975.

Weir wrote in his last column as editor of the Democrat, “We are proud to have lived among you, to witness the results of your efforts and to have had a small part in recording those efforts.

“It is a good feeling to know that Poplarville and Pearl River County is our home.”

It was shortly after his retirement that Weir succumbed to lung cancer at the age of 68.