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Hobart Kornegay, longtime civic leader, dead at 79

By By William F. West / community editor and Penny Randall / staff writer
Aug. 15, 2002
Dr. Hobart Kornegay Jr., a Meridian dentist, civic leader and Lauderdale County's first black elected official, died Wednesday at the age of 79.
The news of Kornegay's death at Heartfelt Hospice drew a number of comments from people who knew and worked with him either in the civil rights movement or during his career in public service. Kornegay served 12 years on the Meridian City Council and three years on the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.
Meridian City Councilwoman Barbara Henson said today that she had not heard the news, but she expressed her sorrow.
Henson cited "his mannerisms" and "the way he dealt with people" in explaining why she believe him to be unique.
Kornegay was educated in the Meridian Public Schools and graduated from Harris Senior High School in 1941. He earned his bachelor of science degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1945 and his doctor of dental surgery degree from Meharry Medical School in Nashville in 1948. He also attended Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and served in the military from 1952 to 1954.
Kornegay went on to become a strong supporter of Dr. Martin Luther King's non-violent campaign to achieve equal rights for blacks in the American South.
But Kornegay also told the newspaper that he believed the slain civil rights leader would be disappointed by the slowness in achieving improvements and progress and would also be disenchanted by today's black youth.
King "often lectured to students on campus about the importance of not wasting their time," Kornegay recalled in the interview. "I think he would think the youth of today are wasting their time with drugs and living a fast life."
Services will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church with the Rev. Zacary Finley officiating.
Burial will be in Sunset Memorial Gardens with Berry and Gardner Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
Visitation will be Friday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the funeral home.

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