An endowed scholarship has been established at East Central Community College in Decatur in memory of the late Gen. Martha Jo Leslie, who rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Mississippi Army National Guard and was a longtime member of the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board.
The scholarship was established by Leslie’s niece, Jeanette Cain Winstead of Brandon and her husband, Jack.
The two-semester scholarship will support a sophomore student in the Associate Degree Nursing program at ECCC who resides in the college’s five-county district of Leake, Neshoba, Newton, Scott and Winston counties and has maintained a “C” or above grade-point average. Preference will be given to those students whose family members currently serve or have served in the Mississippi Army National Guard or Mississippi Air National Guard.
A native of Sallis, Leslie graduated from Thomastown High School in Leake County and the Mississippi Baptist School of Nursing. She served in many positions and was held in high regard by the medical profession during her 40-year nursing career. She also volunteered with the Red Cross and received the Lola Byrd Award for her work.
Leslie’s military career began in 1959 and ended in 1992 when she retired as a Brigadier General in the Mississippi Army National Guard. At one point she was the only female in the Mississippi Army National Guard. During her military career she trained soldiers to become medics at Camp Shelby and received the Mississippi Magnolia Medal for her leadership in caring for evacuees at Camp Shelby following the aftermath of Hurricane Camille.
After retiring from the medical profession and the military, she was appointed by the governor to the Mississippi Veterans Affairs Board, where she served 15 years. Under her leadership, the first Mississippi State Veterans Memorial Cemetery was approved and constructed in Newton County. The VA Home in Kosciusko was later named the Martha Jo Leslie State Veterans Home in her honor.