The grocery store was packed that day as shoppers scrambled to pick up their last-minute dishes for the Thanksgiving holiday.
I was one of those shoppers, armed with a few coupons and the grocery insert from this very newspaper in my hand. My sister had traveled from Boston to spend the holiday with my family, and we were busy trying to finish off all the touches to give her a glimpse and taste of a southern celebration.
As we turned down the aisle filled with gravy mixes and pasta sauces, a familiar face made his way toward our buggy. Alderman Aubry Brent Jr. was in the same boat we were, picking up a few more items for a family celebration.
We stopped and talked for a few minutes, touching on local politics and the direction of the city.
“But, anyway, how are the babies,” he asked, referring to my three children. “They doing all right in school?”
After the conversation, we parted ways, focusing our attention on the shopping that needed to be done.
“I don’t see that every day,” my sister said. “Our city’s officials hardly ever stop to talk to us, and they sure don’t ask about our kids. I doubt my alderman even knows my name.”
That brief moment sums up Aubry Brent to me. In my profession, we have worked side by side for over a decade. I have covered the city council, both the good and the bad. And I routinely spoke with Brent about politics, ordinances, complaints, praises and so forth when it came to city government.
However, during that time, he would often remove his aldermen hat and ask me about my family, how a medical test went or what vacation we planned to undergo that summer.
It deeply bothered me to hear about his passing during Monday’s city council meeting.
In my opinion, Aubry Brent was a devoted city leader, a dedicated alderman and a leader in Yazoo City government. He would often attempt to bridge relationships between the city and county boards as well.
Yazoo City lost a true leader this week. And, once again my opinion, one of the sometimes most logical and level-headed when it came to local politics.
As far as my job as a reporter, he would often go “off-record” and provide me with a wealth of insight. He seemed to trust my confidence, and I could say the same about him. I admit, our best conversations occurred when the reporter pen was put away.
His absence and shoes will certainly be hard to fill. I only knew him for about 12 years, but in that time, he appeared to be a true Yazooan who cared about his community, his family and his neighbors. He was also proud of his time in the military and fellow veterans.
Sure, there were flaws. Everyone has them. But to me, his good points far outweighed any negative ones. In fact, he shared a message with me that held a lesson to it.
“When I ran for mayor, I got beat like a drum,” he said. “It humbled me, but it was what I needed.”
My prayers and thoughts are with Aubry Brent’s family and close friends. He was a true leader both at the city council table and beyond.
And as the city council meeting wrapped up Monday, I glanced over at his empty seat. A feeling of mourning seemed to loom over his chair.
It will be a hard seat to fill, but it was one that he held well. It is a seat that will be etched in Yazoo’s history.