Gov. Phil Bryant declared Dec. 5 to be Dr. Aaron Shirley Day in Mississippi in honor of the medical pioneer who passed away last week.
Shirley was born in Gluckstadt, but moved to Jackson at an early age. Shirley attended Lanier High School and graduated from Tougaloo College in 1955 and Meharry Medical School in Nashville, Tenn., in 1959. He completed his residency in pediatric medicine at the University of Mississippi in 1965.
In 1970, Shirley founded the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center and, in 1997, the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center. Aaron also served as president of the Jackson Medical Mall Foundation. The Jackson Medical Mall was set up in an abandoned shopping center; the facility is a valuable asset in helping revitalize a disadvantaged area of Jackson. Shirley, in 2010, also launched a program to dispatch physicians to rural areas.
In addition to the proclamation, state Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, had also asked Gov. Bryant to order flags around the state lowered to half-mast in remembrance of Shirley but was told the custom is to lower flags only to honor fallen law enforcement and military personnel and elected officials.
Horhn called the denial disappointing and said the state's policy on when flags can be placed at half-mast may need to be clarified.
"I think he deserves that distinction," Horhn said of Dr. Shirley. " Aaron Shirley was one of the finest Mississippians this state ever produced."
Funeral services for Dr. Shirley take place Saturday Dec. 6 at the UMMC Conference Center at the Jackson Medical Mall at 11a.m.