Mike P. Sturdivant, 84, Glendora, Miss., a leader in agriculture in his state and nationally, who went on to be a participant in the early growth of the Holiday Inns lodging chain, and was active in politics, twice running for governor of Mississippi, died May 1 at his home.
Former Mississippi Governor William Winter, in a Greenwood (Miss.) Commonwealth report, said “Mike Sturdivant was one of Mississippi’s most valuable and effective citizen leaders, who was totally dedicated to improving life for everyone in Mississippi. He had a compassion for the less fortunate and did everything he could to improve their lives. He should have been governor of Mississippi.”
Mr. Sturdivant sought the Democratic nomination for governor of Mississippi in 1983 and 1987.
The 12,000-acre family farming operation, Due West Plantation, has been one of the state’s leading agricultural enterprises.
After his graduation from the Harvard University Business School, Mr. Sturdivant and Earle Jones, his roommate at Harvard, began opening Holiday Inns across Mississippi and by the mid-1970s their company, Mississippi Management Inc., was operating more than 2,000 hotel rooms. Today, the company operates more than 100 properties throughout the Southeast.
Born at Memphis, Tenn., he was a graduate of Clarksdale, Miss., High School, Mississippi State University, and Harvard. He was a second lieutenant in the Army during the Korean conflict.
He was a past president of the International Association of Holiday Inns, chairman of the board of managers of Methodist Health Systems, Memphis, and a member of the board of directors and executive committee of Union Planters National Bank (now Regions). He also served on the Mississippi Board of Trustees of Institutions of Higher Learning and chaired its Finance Committee. He was active in the National Cotton Council, serving in various roles, and in numerous state and regional agricultural organizations.
He was a member of the Millsaps College board of trustees, director and vice president of the Delta Council, a member of the board of directors and executive committee of the Staple Cotton Association, a member of the Southern Regional Education Board, president of Minter City Oil Mill (now a part of Delta Oil Mill), a board member of the Mississippi State University Development Foundation, a member of the West Tallahatchie County school board, vice president of the Delta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and served as a member of the Mississippi Fiscal Management Board under Governor Bill Allain.
A member of the Glendora United Methodist Church, he was a Sunday School teacher, lay leader, and chairman of the church board, served as lay delegate to the North Mississippi Methodist annual conference, was a member of the Methodist Health Care Foundation of Memphis and a member of the board of the Mississippi Methodist Senior Services.
He was a recipient of the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Service Award, the Living Award from the Methodist Hospital Foundation, and was the first recipient of the Life Inspiration Award from Methodist Hospitals of Memphis.
An avid sportsman, he loved hunting, fishing, tennis, snow skiing, and playing bridge and golf. He had the rare experience of making two holes-in-one during one round of golf.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Ygondine Walker Sturdivant, and five children, Mike Sturdivant (Jan), Itta Bena, Miss.; Walker Sturdivant (Lanie), Greenwood, Miss.; Sykes Sturdivant (Cindy), Glendora; Gaines Sturdivant (Lynn), Jackson, Miss.; and Ygondine Sturdivant Creasy, Lynchburg, Va.; 9 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be Friday, May 4, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, May 5, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Lighthouse at St. Johns United Methodist Church, Greenwood, Miss.
A celebration of his life will be at 1 p.m., Saturday, in the church sanctuary, with graveside services following at 4 p.m. at Oakridge Cemetery, Clarksdale, Miss.
Memorials may be sent to the Glendora United Methodist Church, P. O. Box 89, Glendora MS 38928; Methodist Healthcare Foundation, P. O. Box 42048, Memphis TN 38174; or Methodist Senior Services, P. O. Box 1567, Tupelo MS 38802.