Like many who knew him, the first time I saw and heard Michael Rubenstein was by way of his WLBT sportscast. He was a different type of sportscaster. He was eloquent, articulate, brash and authoritative. He knew sports like no other sportscaster. And he covered ALL of the universities and schools in Mississippi.
I got to know Michael through our association with the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. I had the privilege of serving as President of the organization during the two years (1994-1996) of design and construction of the facility. He was the Executive Director. To say that he worked tirelessly on the project would be an understatement. It was his life’s work. His vision was to showcase Mississippi’s sports history and to provide a place where lots of things went on. He said that he dreamed of the day when there would be school buses in the parking lot and meetings and functions in the museum, not just displays of sports equipment and photos. It would be a place where people participated.
Those years were rewarding and challenging. Raising money was a top priority, and Michael was constantly on the phone and in face-to-face meetings telling potential supporters that the museum would showcase the positive things about Mississippi – its sports heroes and its sports legacy. The museum would also be a place where current Mississippi athletes would be honored. He hired two perfect staff members, Margaret Ferris White and Lulu Maness, who have their own connections to legendary Mississippi sports figures. They are still there today.
Michael’s vision became reality, and he personified what it represented. He was a walking sports encyclopedia and someone who championed the importance of sports in Mississippi. His legacy is in a building on Lakeland Drive and in the memories of those who knew him.
Rest in peace, good friend.