The Forest Area Chamber of Commerce has named Bill and Sandra Lovett as well as Elizabeth Ann Lovett Forest Citizens of the Year for 2021. The Lovetts will be honored with a reception next Thursday, Dec. 2 from 3:30 - 5:00 p.m. at Colbert Commons and they will reign over the Annual Forest Christmas Parade Friday, Dec. 3 beginning at 6:00 p.m.
Elizabeth Ann Lovett’s father, Dr. L.W. Willey, moved his practice and his family to Forest when she was ten years old. She graduated from Forest High School and the University of Mississippi and married Forest native, Jimmy Lovett. They had two sons, Allen and Jeffrey, and later a daughter-in-law, Ashley Shaw.
The Lovett family has now expanded and includes four grandsons, Britt, Cale, Jack, and Noah. Lovett is a member of Forest United Methodist Church where she taught Sunday School for 31 years. She has also served as president of La Petite Fortnightly Club, and is presently a member of Forest Garden Club, and a past recipient of Star Teacher.
Lovett taught English and speech, and I tutored English Language Learners for 36 years with 25 of those years at Forest High School. “I enjoy teaching because I like helping young minds grasp a love for literature,” Lovett said. “I also think it is important to teach grammar so that students will have the vocabulary and syntax to help them succeed in whatever job or profession they choose. Speech helps students to be able to speak confidently in various situations. Best of all I love working with young people. I have always wanted my students to believe in themselves and in their abilities.
“I feel humbled, yet honored, to be a Forest Citizen of the Year along with Bill and Sandra Lovett.”
Billy R. (Bill) Lovett is a native of Forest and attended Forest High School and East Central Junior College. Sandra (Cloud) Lovett is a native of Pensacola, FL, and attended Pensacola High School. They met when both were students at Mississippi Southern College (now University of Southern Mississippi), and have been together since.
Their lives have been interesting and well-traveled. Both have been successful in their professions. Bill was a teacher at Pensacola High School and eventually enlisted in the Navy and was designated a Naval Flight Officer, serving in five airborne early warning aviation squadrons deployed in six aircraft carriers homeported on both Atlantic and Pacific coasts. He served as an Airborne Air Controller when deployed, and a tactical instructor during shore-based tours, for a total of 27 years of service. Returning to Forest, he was an instructor at East Central Community College for several years.
Sandra had interesting and fulfilling positions, primarily in the field of Human Resources Management for some major corporations, mainly in San Diego, CA.
A couple of years after coming to Forest, she received a call from the owner of the last corporation in San Diego for which she worked, imploring Sandra to return there long enough to solve a serious and complicated personnel issue that had come up. Sandra did return for a few months, and the issue was satisfactorily solved, much to the owner’s appreciation.
Sandra is credited by Bill as the sustaining factor in their marriage, having dealt with the heavy responsibilities incumbent in maintaining a home and singlehandedly rearing their daughters during his several lengthy deployments. As she says, “I could count on something breaking in the home as soon as he was away on another cruise, or possibly a kid being sick.” Their younger daughter, in fact, was born in Portsmouth Naval Hospital while Bill was still on deployment. No question, wives of service personnel bear a consistently heavy load.
Bill and Sandra have two daughters, Dr. Laura Lovett, who with her husband, Dr. Michael Dietrich, are professors at University of Pittsburgh (PA). They are parents of Lydia Dietrich, employed at a major architectural firm in Toronto, Canada, and Arlena Dietrich, a student at Pittsburgh University.
The Lovett’s other daughter is Terrin Irwin, of near Park City, Utah, where she is an Ultrasound Technologist. Terrin, her husband Brent, a software engineer, and their daughter, Annika, recently moved from San Diego to Utah.
Since moving to Forest, the Lovetts have been active in many areas, including many activities and responsibilities in the Forest United Methodist Church, veterans organizations, Forest Community Arts, Forest Garden Club, Daughters of the American Revolution, Gideons, and other civic and service groups.
They feel deeply honored for designation as Citizens of the Year, along with Elizabeth Ann Lovett, whose late husband, Jimmy, was a cousin and close friend of Bill.