Libby Hollingsworth, one of Mississippi’s most passionate and gracious preservationists, died on Saturday, July 2, 2016, at her home in Port Gibson. If you’ve been around the Mississippi Heritage Trust for even just a little bit, you’ve no doubt met Libby and Al Hollingsworth, as they would have introduced themselves and made you feel welcome. Al and Libby are so much a part of Mississippi’s preservation community that MHT named its lifetime achievement award for them:
Libby and Al Hollingsworth Award. This most prestigious award recognizes an individual(s)’s lifelong achievments and leadership in both state and national preservation arenas and their service to MHT.
Libby was a descendant of the Shaifer family of Claiborne County, and she took seriously her responsibilities to preserve and protect her part of the nationally significant Port Gibson Battlefield. The Shaifer House is where the battle began, and if you haven’t visited it, make sure to take a trip down Shaifer Road and spend some time there. She was also serious about protecting Port Gibson’s Church Street and more recently, Prospect Hill, just over the county line in Jefferson County. But “serious” doesn’t really capture the quick-witted Libby, generous with her time and encyclopedic knowledge of Mississippi history and always ready with a smile and a laugh that showed her joy in life and in her family and friends.
The Natchez Democrat published her obituary, from which I learned the full scope of Libby’s life, and it was definitely full. This is just an excerpt:
Elizabeth Shaifer Hollingsworth was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi on June 13, 1933. Her parents were Sanfrid Blomquist Shaifer and Dorothy (Davidson) Shaifer. She was raised in the Delta and graduated from Leland High School. She attended Peabody Teacher’s College and Southwestern at Memphis (Rhodes College) where she graduated with a degree in Bible. While at Southwestern, she was a member of the Tri-Delta Sorority and continued to be an active alumnus throughout the years.
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On December 22, 1956 she married Al Hollingsworth. Her husband’s work took them to Natchez, Mississippi, Hanford, California and Connecticut. In 1976 they bought an historic home in Guilford, Connecticut which they enjoyed restoring.
Libby was a long-time member of The First Presbyterian Church of New Haven, Connecticut where she was ordained a ruling elder and a delegate from the New England Presbytery to the 200th General Assembly.
Additionally, Libby was the Director of the North Guilford Nursery School, President of the Yale New Haven Hospital Auxiliary, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Yale New Haven Hospital. Upon retirement with her husband, they relocated to Port Gibson, Mississippi where she was active in Historic Preservation, Main Street programs on the local and national level, Board Member of The Mississippi Heritage Trust, The Advisory Board of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, founding member of the Port Gibson Heritage Trust, board member of the Mississippi Historical Society, a strong supporter of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, a champion of the preservation of the Port Gibson Battlefield, and a member of The First Presbyterian Church of Natchez.
Libby’s passions included documenting the history of her family and Claiborne County, MS, reading, socializing, giving tours, flower arranging and spending summers and Christmas in Connecticut with family and friends. She and her husband Al became Mississippi Master Gardeners in 2011. Libby could often be seen taking care of her yard, a point of pride for her.