Mary Louise Nosser
Mary Louise Nosser is a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Her parents, John and Effie Nosser, immigrated to Vicksburg from the Mount Lebanon region of Syria (now Lebanon) just after World War I. In 1924 John opened a small grocery store on Washington Street. A year later, he married Effie, and they started a family. Mary Louise remembers growing up in a vibrant Lebanese community, with mom-and-pop grocery stores on every corner and traditional Lebanese feasts every Sunday.
Mary Louise lived in other parts of Mississippi for a time, but she moved back to Vicksburg in 1968 when her mother died. Less than a decade earlier, St. George Orthodox Church started welcoming the greater Vicksburg community to an annual Lebanese dinner in an effort to raise funds for a new building. Mary Louise started helping with the dinner as soon as she returned to town.
Today, the annual Lebanese dinner at St. George Orthodox Church is so popular that the congregation welcomes more than 3,000 people through its doors each February. And Mary Louise still works the event, selling dinners and preaching the gospel of Lebanese food.
Date of interview:
September 1, 2010