Photo courtesy Elsie Hendrickson
Edward G. Cortright Jr., who served as chancellor for Mississippi's 11th Chancery District for 26 years, died on Wednesday, Aug. 11, at age 94. His funeral took place on Saturday, Aug. 21, at Glenwood Cemetery in Yazoo City.
Cortright was born in Yazoo City on Dec. 20, 1926. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and served in the United States Army Air Corp. He then enrolled at the University of Mississippi, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1949 before going on to the University of Virginia, where he received his law degree in 1952. The Mississippi Bar admitted him later that year, and he spent the next 18 years practicing general law in Yazoo City. He also served as a Yazoo City alderman from 1957 to 1961.
Former Mississippi Gov. Paul B. Johnson Jr. twice appointed Cortright as a special chancellor of the 11th Chancery District, which includes Yazoo, Holmes, Leake and Madison counties, in 1966 and 1969. Cortright was formally elected to the position in November 1970 and took office on Jan. 1, 1971. He retired in April 1997 but continued to hear cases as a senior status judge for several years. Former Gov. Haley Barbour later appointed Cortright as a special justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court in 2005.
Cortright was a member of the Continuing Judicial Education Committee and served as chairman of the Conference of Chancery Judges. He also served as a member of the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Rules from 1983 to 1997 and was one of the original members of the Charles Clark Inn of Court, where he served as Master of the Bench.
After retirement, Cortright was active in Red Cross relief efforts and served as chairman of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Committee.
Cortright lived in Yazoo City until 2006, when he moved to St. Catherine’s Village in Madison. He and his wife of 68 years, Mary Ann Holmes Cortright, had three children: Elsie Hendrickson, Mary Nell Prichard, and Ed Cortright, as well as four grandchildren, five great grandchildren, two step grandchildren and four step great grandchildren.