Sunday, April 01, 2007

Gordon Lackey dies in Greenwood; Klansman involved in Evers slaying

The man who may have killed Medgar Evers or at least who had a role in the assassination died died Wednesday, March 21, 2007, at Greenwood Leflore Hospital.

When Medgar Evers was killed, rumors quickly spread that more than one Klansman was involved, including Gordon Mims Lackey. Several years ago, when tracking down this story, Becky Rouse of Sidon told me she had worked as a waitress and restaurant manager in Greenburg at the “Cottonpatch” Restaurant in the mid 1990s where a small group of men frequently met for breakfast.

“There were about eight of them and they talked freely around me, I guess because I was from Michigan and they wanted to get my reaction,” Rouse said. “Also, I’m a history buff and I could get them talking.”

When the final Byron De La Beckwith trial began, one of the older men, Gordon Lackey, “liked to brag” about his role in the murder, Rouse said. “Lackey said he killed Evers – that he was the triggerman – and not Beckwith. Lackey said that Beckwith knew he was dying and agreed to [turn himself in]…but Lackey said he flew a helicopter down to Jackson, shot Evers and came back early that morning. One of Lackey’s friends, ‘Buddy,’ would drink coffee with him and confirmed what Gordon Lackey was saying,” according to Rouse.

Interestingly, Lackey sometimes flew as an agricultural pilot, according to Greenwood aviation history buff, Allan Hammons. While there were no commercial helicopters in the region at the time, Lackey was a member of the National Reserves and the Guard, Hammons said. Further, the Klan owned its own airplane, and so Lackey would have had aviation access.

Rouse said the old Klansmen also talked about the Emmett Till murder and said she believes, from comments made by Lackey, “he might have been involved in that murder, too.”

Adam Nossitor, who wrote “Of Long Memory,” described Lackey, a small-time motorcycle repairman and charter member of the White Knights as “Beckwith’s old friend.” (137-139) Lackey had helped Sam Bowers draft a constitution for the new organization, according to
Nossiter, and in August 1965, “he recruited Beckwith into the Klan.”

It was Lackey who “proposed blowing up the SNCC headquarters in Greenwood, a plan that was later dropped because of FBI presence around the office,” Nossiter wrote.

A White Knight Kleagle or recruiter in August of 1965, Lackey later joined the United Klans of America. He appeared before HUAC on January 13, 1966, as did Beckwith, also of Greenwood. Lackey, who earlier helped write the 40-page constitution of the White Knights,the state’s most secret Klan organization, refused to answer questions, invoking the Fifth Amendment. Various Sovereignty Commission files hold newspaper clippings that give these details.

For the record, Lackey’s obituary stated the following:

He was a businessman, and operated several area businesses over the years. A native and lifelong resident of Greenwood, he was born Sept. 12, 1936, to the late Lyman A. and Rena Mims Lackey. He attended the Greenwood city schools, and was a graduate of Greenwood High School. He continued his education at Mississippi State University.

Mr. Lackey's work ethic was firmly established during his teen years when he worked for master machinist Horace Kitchell, and later for Jimmy Landers. During his life he owned and operated a motorcycle dealership, and introduced the Ducati motorcycle to the area.

In his later years, he became an airplane pilot trained by Gilmore Sims. He became an agriculture pilot and owned Spray Inc. During the course of his flying career, he served as president of the Agriculture Pilots Association. In the off-season, he worked in the family business, Lackey's Café, on what is now Park Avenue in Greenwood.

After a period of time, Mr. Lackey bought Greenwood Irrigation, and was a dealer for Lindsey Center Pivots. He also designed, sold and installed irrigation systems for home lawns and commercial property.

He was an avid reader who read for pleasure as well as knowledge reading everything from Socrates for Ayn Rand, and thousands of books in between.

His family says that those who knew him well realized that he was a philosopher at mind and heart, optimistic by nature, compassionate of spirit and wise. He was a staunch conservative who served the Republican Party whenever and however he was asked to do so.

Mr. Lackey was a Methodist and a 32nd degree Mason. He conferred Scottish Rites upon Sen. John C. Stennis. He was a skilled woodsman and an accomplished shot. His passion for pistol shooting wa a driving influence in his youth. For many years he was an active member of Gumbo Hunting Club, and memories of times spent afield at the club were dear to him. He also served in the Mississippi National Guard for six years.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Mulvihill Lackey of Greenwood; a son, Gordon M. "Beau" Lackey Jr. and his wife, Jennifer Weir, of Hattiesburg; a stepson, John Robert Capelle III of Greenwood; a stepdaughter, Teresa Gail Capelle Lay and her husband, Wallace A. Lay III, of Trenton, Ga.; one brother, Lyman A. Lackey Jr. of Lawton, Okla.; three grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and numerous cousins, primarily in Leflore and Carroll counties.

The Rev. Bobby Polk of Vicksburg will officiate at the services.

Burial will be in Odd Fellows Cemetery.
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Looks like they left out a little … sk

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