When Natchez native Margaret Cupples graduated from law school at Washington and Lee in 1993, she was offered a year-long position in Jackson with Judge Rhesa Barksdale. After that, she worked at the firm of Lake Tindall, which later merged with Bradley, Arant, Rose and White, where the 37-year-old litigation defense attorney still works. Now, 13 years since her initial arrival in Jackson, Cupples has yet to consider leaving.
In addition to working downtown, Cupples is active in the Belhaven neighborhood. She is part of the Belhaven Improvement Association, sits on the board of the Oaks Museum, and is secretary of the Greater Belhaven Neighborhood Foundation, which focuses on long-range planning and economic development for the area. She also helps with the Belhaven Neighborhood Market: "That's one of the things that makes Belhaven different—I wish more people not in Belhaven knew about it."
When Cupples and her Atlanta-native husband, Brett (whom she met at Fenian's), recently looked for a new home, the prospect of moving out of Belhaven, let alone the city, was unthinkable, she says.
When Cupples isn't improving the community through its laws or neighborhoods, she works on its dance moves. Cupples teaches Irish dance classes at venues from Ballet Mississippi to Fenian's (keep an eye on the Lounge List for dates and times) to Ireland itself. She also performs Irish dancing, most recently for a tour group of senior citizens on "a mystery bus tour": They had no idea where they were headed, and got Jackson and Irish dancing out of the deal.
How does she have time for all this activity? "We all wonder that," she says, "including me and Brett." As an architect with Duvall Decker, Brett is quite busy himself.
Still, they find time to travel, and I was lucky to catch Cupples on a weekend when she was in town. Frequent destinations include Natchez (where Cupples' mother still lives) and New Orleans (where Brett is involved in a Mardi Gras organization).
But they love coming back to Jackson. "We're both putting down some roots here," Cupples says. "This is home."
"I had a friend who said, 'Mississippi isn't really a state—it's a club,' and it really is. People do really want people who are coming here or living here for the first time to have a good impression and to stay," Cupples says. And, with her help, Jackson is building a great impression.