Family, Friends of George Day Celebrate His Life Through His Pictures

This appeared in The Neshoba Democrat - November 16, 2005

Country music star Marty Stuart hosted a tribute to the late Philadelphia photographer George Day that packed a downtown store on Sunday afternoon.

People crowded into the The Carousel to catch a glimpse of Stuart and to relive memories of their youth that were captured by Day’s portraits.

The event featured numerous portraits by Day that lined the walls of the back room of The Carousel. People also brought their memories of Day to the event such as old portraits or photographs. One former employee of the photographer brought an old light that was used in Day’s studio.

“This is a great occasion to get together,” Stuart told the crowd. “There’s never been a time in our home and a lot of other people’s homes, especially in Neshoba County, that hasn’t been enriched by portraits made by George Day, whether the portraits were of family members or friends.”

The event was also attended by George Day’s son, Dickie Day as well as by Philadelphia Mayor Rayburn Waddell, who read a proclamation from Gov. Haley Barbour declaring November 13 “George Day Day.”

Stuart said Barbour was very receptive to honoring Day in that regard because he himself knew of Day’s work.

“Somehow somebody in the governor’s family was related to the Days, so he knew exactly who George was and knew the level of his work,” Stuart said. “Haley signed off on it real fast.”

Stuart said that Day’s work has always been inspirational to him which is a reason he wanted to honor him.

“I’ve never lived anywhere where George Day’s work wasn’t a part of our home,” Stuart said. “Even in my ‘roughing it’ days in Nashville when I was living in a one-room apartment, I still thought a piece of George Day’s work gave the place some homespun value and some dignity.”

Stuart said that one particular incident in New York City made him realize how widespread George Day’s work has become.

“About five years ago I was in New York City and I went to a place called the Cowgirls Hall of Fame, which is a hip and trendy restaurant, and they had a lot of different works on the wall,” Stuart said. “There was a hand-colored piece of photography and the style looked familiar to me. I asked if I could turn it over and on the back it said ‘George Day Studios, Philadelphia, Miss. It got me to thinking, this has gone way beyond pictures on the wall, it qualifies as art. And we shouldn’t forget one of our pioneer artists and businessmen.”

George Day’s son Dickie traveled from his home in Jackson, Tennessee, to attend the event and said it was a great honor for his father to be recognized in this way.

“This started out as a little reunion for George Day employees and now, thank goodness all the people in town seem to be here,” Day said. “Everyone seems to have some affiliation with George in the past. George always tried to do a lot behind the scenes, I don’t know how he would have reacted to this.”

Katherine Algood, a former employee of Day, said the photographer was very particular about his work, but always went out of the way to make his employees feel appreciated.

“He was a good man to work for,” Algood said. “He had special parties like Christmas parties that he would hold for us. He was very particular and wanted everything just right, but that’s what made him such a good artist.”

Stuart has said that George Day’s portraits touched people’s hearts and the crowd that packed into The Carousel to remember the photographer and view his photographs proved Day’s work did just that.

“George Day’s work has brought us all together as family, friends and community,” Stuart told the crowd. “These photographs are a piece of us as Neshoba County residents, as Mississippians and as Americans. They touch us very deeply.”

By Jeff Edwards

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