Winola Mimms was born on March 23, 1932 in Morton’s Gap before her family moved to Earlington Ky. At the age of 11 Mimms’ family finally settled in Madisonville.
Being one of 12 children, Mimms learned at an early age the values of family, friendship and hard work. She also learned that not everyone was created equal in the segregated south and that black people were often treated harshly and unfairly.
Mimms was subjected to the horrible “Jim Crow” laws of the period and the attitudes that black people were only seen and not heard. She spent most of her life in Madisonville where her parents instilled in her the value of education, to be independent and think for herself.
She attended Branch Street School, then graduated on to Rosenwald High School; a school for black students who were taught by black teachers. Mimms loved attending Rosenwald and was active in school activities (acting, singing), was a cheerleader and often spoke of her teachers and how they provided the students with an excellent education.
After graduating from Rosenwald she moved to Columbus, Ohio to attend college, but she returned to marry Wesley C. Mimms. They had three children and were a very close-knit family. The family attended East View Baptist Church where she became a member at the age of 19. She was very strong in her faith and often stated “I’ve been very blessed, the Lord has been good.”
In 1980 she lost her husband, who suffered from a massive stroke and passed away leaving her to raise her family alone. She relied on the upbringing by her parents to guide her in raising her family and navigating the new road in life without her husband.
Mimms spent her life helping people. She looked for the good in all people, and worked with everyone that wanted to work towards equality for all.
After receiving training from the Housing and Urban Development in Louisville and the Housing development Corp.,in Durham North Carolina, Mimms went to work for the Hopkins-Muhlenberg Community Action Program in 1967.
Some of her responsibilities included organizing the Hall Bottom community, where she assisted residents in the renovation and purchase of their homes. She was also involved in land purchases and the construction of new homes for low income families in the Hopkins-Muhlenberg County area.
Mimms served as an equal opportunity officer in the Community Action Agency and helped establish a childcare center for low and moderate income families at the Church of God in Christ. She was the first Community Action Agency employee in Kentucky to be recognized as a HUD 237 counselor.
She worked with many local organizations in service to her community. She was a coordinator for the Jewish Society for Services, a member of the Pennyrile Allied Community Services, the Hopkins Countians for Progress, the AARP, the NAACP, the Regional Senior Citizens Center board, Bethel Outreach and the Women’s Democratic Party Committee.
Some of the awards and honors she received are:
2009 — Bethel Out Reach Community Service award.
2006 — The RSVP Program of Pennyrile Allied Community Services for invaluable volunteer service to the Retired and Senior Volunteer program Advisory Council.
2004 — Inducted into the Hopkins County Democratic Party Hall of Fame.
2001 — Pioneer Award — Regional Senior Citizens Center of Hopkins County.
1997 — Certificate of Recognition for her promotion of the human spirit through her dedicated and faithful service to her community at large — The African American Unity Committee, Inc.
1995 — Appointed to the City of Madisonville Housing Commission.
1988 — Award for Distinguished Service to PACS Board of Directors by the Pennyrile Allied Community Services Inc.
1975 — Recognized as Outstanding Citizen of the Year by Hopkins Countians for Progress.
Mimms worked for the Hopkins County Housing Authority and the Historical Society of Hopkins County for 16 years. She always enjoyed giving tours of the museum and the
Gov. Ruby Laffoon Log Cabin to visitors, especially the school children that came to the Historical Society for field trips. She also helped people with genealogical research and made many submissions to the Historical Society to make sure the achievements of all people; no matter the color, or creed were represented in Hopkins County History.
Mimms spent her life in service to God, her family, her friends and her community. She passed away in 2019.
Information for this article was submitted by the Concerned Citizens Society.