Sallie Ann Neblett Gresham, the former senior editor of the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville, died Tuesday, the newspaper reporter. She was 68.
Former colleagues called Gresham a consummate professional with sincere compassion for others. Gresham worked at the newspaper for 43 years until her retirement in 2009, when she moved to Florida to be near family.
Ray Mosby, owner of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork, said Gresham and Hodding Carter III gave him his first job in the newspaper business in the mid-1970s.
“Sallie literally gave her life to the DDT,” Mosby said. “And both the DDT and Greenville were better for it.”
Another former cowoker, Leroy Morganti, said Gresham was the glue that held the newspaper together.
“Sallie made a lot of poor reporters better and good reporters better, because of her insistence that they rise to her high standards,” he said. “That was the most important thing she did.”
Gresham was born in Thomasville, Ga., and moved to Greenville during high school. She graduated from Greenville High School and attended the Mississippi University for Women before receiving a bachelor’s degree in English from Mississippi State.
After college graduation, Gresham was hired at the Delta Democrat Times that was then located downtown, “Where Main Street Meets the River.”
She showed up for her first day of work the same day Morganti showed up for his — Aug. 15, 1966.
“I guess we were both eager beavers on our first day, and when I got there, she was the only person there. We just kind of nodded at each other,” Morganti said.
After a while, Morganti said, he asked Gresham what he thought were basic, simple questions. Gresham didn’t have the answers.
“I thought, ‘Well, if this indicates the kind of talent they have up here, I’m going to be a bright and shining star,’” Morganti said.
Then, Gresham asked Morganti a basic, simple question. He didn’t know the answer.
“That’s when we found out it was the first day for both of us,” he said. “So, we got off to a fun start. She was such a good person. She loved that DDT and she loved Greenville.”
She also loved people, her colleagues said.
“Sallie had a great understanding of humanity,” Mosby said.
He said Gresham became like another mother to him when he learned of his wife’s illness.
“She was very, very supportive, and I’ll never forget that,” he said. “She was remarkably compassionate and intuitive. I loved ol’ Sallie dearly.”
Ross Reily, a former editor of the Delta Democrat Times and current editor of the Mississippi Business Journal, said Gresham strove to produce a great newspaper every day.
“Greenville and the Delta were lucky to have had someone, who — in my opinion — was one of the five or six best ever to have worked in the business in Mississippi,” Reily said. “As a person, Sallie was one of the most compassionate, loving and giving people I have ever known. … Heaven is getting one of our best.”
Gresham was preceded in the death by her husband, Benny Gresham.
She is survived by a son, Frank Gresham, and his fiancee, Logan Mosby; a daughter, Morgan Gresham, and her husband, Michael Pohl; two grandchildren, Kayler and Marisa.
Arrangements are incomplete.
— Laura Smith, Delta Democrat Times