Loy left a lasting legacy of love for community
On July 17, Natchez lost a man who touched almost all of us who grew up in the Natchez community, even if we didn’t realize his influence at the time.
Harley D. Loy passed away that day at the age of 89.
As a student at what was once known as Montebello Elementary and Junior High from kindergarten through ninth grade, one constant in life was the Big Star Supermarket.
Every afternoon when the school bell rang, Loy knew within minutes his store — located on the bypass between Montebello (now McLaurin Elementary) and Dennis’ Conoco station (now a Sprint Mart) — would be filled with students who would stop in to buy a drink and a snack or just to stop in the air-conditioned store before beginning their walk home from school to what was at the time a good, family-filled neighborhood known as Roselawn.
Oh, how things change.
In retrospect, I don’t know how happy that end of school day bell made Loy, but I know he was never anything but kind and welcoming. His sons, were among the students who made their way to the Big Star after school, but the difference is, Loy put them to work. If any store was truly a family business, Loy’s was.
Mr. Loy’s Big Star was a crucial part of the lives of so many, as The Natchez Markets are today. It was our grocery store. It was the place mama would go to pick up lunch for my stepfather before he would get home from work. It was where we headed on Saturday mornings for still-warm doughnuts.
And it was our bank. I cannot tell you how many times my mother sat in the car and waited for me to run in the Big Star to “cash a check.”
I babysat for many years for Ken and Martha Whittington’s sons Kevin, Craig and Derrick. I cashed countless Whittington babysitting checks at the Big Star. Those three boys are all grown up now with families of their own. Kevin, who has an eighth-grade son at Cathedral, is my insurance agent. Craig is also a State Farm agent in Colliersville, Tenn., and Derrick is in the Hattiesburg area. But I digress.
If Loy minded that, he never let me know it. And he was always at the Big Star, always hard at work.
I can think of no one who was more giving to this community. When a sponsor or a donation was needed for Dixie Youth Baseball or for the Montebello Tigers football team or for Camp Little Ladies or anything else, calling Harley Loy was a sure thing.
It’s heartening that Barry Loy and his brothers, who operate The Markets today, have continued Loy’s commitment to this community.
Natchez is such a better place because Harley Loy made his way here in 1969 and bought the Lewis’ grocery store here. I can’t imagine growing up in this place without his stores and his generosity.
And I’m thankful he passed his work ethic, generosity and love for this community on to his family, who carry on his legacy here.
Jan Griffey is general manager of The Natchez Democrat. You may reach her at 601-445-3627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.