A tale of 3s: Family shares graduation connection

Published 3:00 pm Saturday, November 18, 2023

Brookhaven High alum Phyllis Dillon has something unique in common with six other family members in addition to blood ties. They all graduated from Brookhaven schools in years ending in a “3.”

Her mother, Anna Lee Coleman Sterling, graduated from Alexander in 1953. She was a housewife, and one of the first women to work at Stahl Urban in Brookhaven. She also was one of several people who marched at Brookhaven High for integration, and she was the first woman in her family to graduate high school.

Twenty years later, Phyllis Sterling Watkins Dillon graduated from Brookhaven High School in 1973. She worked at Trustmark Bank when it was still Brookhaven Bank, then retired after working for the Brookhaven City Court.

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Another 20 years later, Dillon’s oldest daughter TayNinh Watkins Travis graduated in 1993, and so did her nephew Chris Sterling. Tay is a phlebotomist at Guy’s Pharmacy.

Her youngest daughter Tiffany Anna-Alicia Watkins played basketball at BHS, and graduated in 2003, 10 years after her oldest sister. She works in education as a special services assistant at Fannie Mullins School, and was at Lipsey Middle for years.

A decade later, her niece Nyia Sterling graduated from BHS in 2013, and another 10 years later her granddaughter Anna Nicole Gamble graduated Brookhaven in 2023.

Anna Nicole played basketball and ran track at BHS, and is now a student at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

Her great-nephew Javarius Lewis also graduated in 2023, though from a Lincoln County School District school, West Lincoln.

Dillon is proud of her family’s successes in education and beyond, and the odd connection they share in graduation years.

“It makes us feel good that we all accomplished that,” she said.