Mrs. Mary Naomi Hopkins Noonkester was a dedicated
homemaker and first lady of William Carey University for the 33
years her husband, the late Dr. Ralph Noonkester, served as president.
During Dr. Noonkester’s tenure as president, from 1956-1989, Mrs.
Noonkester was active at Carey, attending numerous public events and
serving as hostess for receptions and gatherings. She also held the position
of registrar at Mississippi Women’s College in the early 1950s during the
transition toWilliam Carey College.
Mrs. Noonkester graduated from Marion High School and from
Marion College in Marion, Va., and earned the Bachelor of Sacred
Music from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., in 1950. After she
and Dr. Noonkester married and later moved to Hattiesburg in 1952,
she worked briefly for the Mississippi Central Railroad. Mrs. Noonkester
was always devoted to her husband, his career, and their family, but she
made many contributions in her own right. She was active in charitable
organizations and a notable preschool Sunday school teacher at First Baptist
Church in Hattiesburg for over 30 years.
Mrs. Noonkester is survived by her children, Dr. Lila D. Noonkester
and Dr. Myron C. Noonkester. Her son is the dean of The Ralph and
Naomi Noonkester School of Arts and Letters, which was named for
Mrs. Noonkester and her husband in 2007, and her daughter chairs the
department of music at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C.. William
Carey University will be forever impacted by the graceful legacy of Mrs.
The Noonkester family in 1965.
A message to Mrs. Noonkester in the 1986 yearbook.
WCU Remembers First Lady
| Carey Magazine