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May 18, 2024

Cleveland – Bolivar County Animal Shelter

Donation of close to $2 million for 

creating major improvements

By Becky Gillette

The Bolivar Bullet

Even people who were close friends with William R. Tribble for a long time had no idea how successful he had been as a businessman. Tribble was known for being modest, thrifty and hard-working—but not rich.

So, when Tribble passed away in 2018, it came as a surprise that the estate of Tribble and his late partner, Ramona Owen—amounting to nearly $2 million—was donated to the Cleveland-Bolivar County Animal Shelter.

“I knew William for a long time, almost 30 years,” said Darry “Doc” Hardy, a local retired businessman who taught computer programming at Delta State University for 28 years. “William had a lot of investments in real estate. But I never really knew he had that kind of money, to be honest with you. I was executor of his estate, and I was thinking it would be $60,000 to $100,000. When I found out how much it was, I was absolutely floored. I would think almost $2 million would be a pretty big thing.

“When he had apartments, he did all the maintenance work on his apartments. He was a really good fisherman, too. At one time he held a state record for the only rainbow trout caught in the state of Mississippi. He really loved being outdoors. But he quit the Outdoor Club one year because they went up on dues by $100.”

Tribble, who had a black belt in karate, had dogs earlier in his life but stopped owning them after his health declined. 

“Years ago, he used to have dogs,” said Hardy. “My family has a little Shih Tzu named Jack, and William absolutely loved Jack. He would spend all the time in the world with him. When I had the Sears store, I would call William to help me just to get him out of the house. He would ask if Jack was coming. He loved animals.”

Jamie Gregory-Grant, director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Animal Shelter, said the very generous donation was left to the animal shelters at the time of Tribble’s passing in 2018.

“In his will, it was specified that the funds be used to improve the shelter facility, and construction on that has been ongoing since the end of 2021,” said Gregory-Grant. “The renovation includes the addition of a housing facility specifically for dogs on the west side of the property with indoor/outdoor runs the dogs are already greatly enjoying, as well as an extensive remodel of the existing building to include many more care areas for cat housing, food storage, and medical needs. The front lobby has been given a much-needed facelift to give the shelter a more inviting and professional atmosphere as well.”

Along with cosmetic and housing issues, the donation has been used to fix flooding and drainage problems on the property that would have continued to damage their new building over time. 

“We are tremendously grateful to Mr. Tribble for his donation and the ability it has given us to improve the lives of the animals being housed with us, and the ability to keep them comfortable until their forever home can be found,” Gregory-Grant said.

On average, the shelter takes in about 1,000 animals in a year. In 2022, they took in 1014. That year they adopted out, sent out to rescue or returned nearly 700 animals to their owners. They currently have about 100 animals on the property currently, and this past year they adopted out, sent to rescue, or returned to their owner almost 700 animals. 

One reason why there are so many unwanted pets is that many people can’t afford to pay to spay or neuter their pets. Gregory-Grant said while they would love to assist in low-cost vet care and spay and neuter clinics, but the estate funds were specifically donated to use to renovate the shelter.

“So, we are unable to use those funds for any other purpose,” she said. “Also, as a municipality, we are governed by very specific rules for what we can use our funds for. We do, however, hope to work together with our local vets to host a low-cost vaccination clinic on-site as soon as construction is completed.”