Oktibbeha County Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan reports that a large house fire on Bardwell Road claimed the life of one of its elderly residents and her two would-be rescuers, but not before those same brave souls managed to save the life of another. The house caught fire late in the morning on Jan. 9, and the area was still dangerous to enter twelve hours later. Nevertheless, firefighters and police officers made a push into the areas of the house they were able to access in order to try and rescue any survivors; the effort was put on hold for the night shortly before midnight because of the increased danger from smoke and still-volatile hotspots. Emergency personnel were able to resume their search early the next morning; they soon discovered the bodies of three victims in what was left of the house. The building itself was completely destroyed. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Samuel Razi Morris, a resident of the home, and Geraldine Bradford Rice, who was already on-scene, were able to get George Robson, age 92, out of the residence and to a safe location. Once they had done so, Morris and Rice re-entered the still-burning house to retrieve Celia Craig Robson, George’s wife. Unfortunately, they were unable to escape in time.
George Robson, Celia’s husband, served as a career Army officer; he once served as an ROTC instructor at MSU.
Geraldine Rice, a former a District 5 Volunteer Firefighter, served as Celia Robson’s caretaker at the time of the fire.
Celia Robson, age 91, was one of Mississippi’s first physical therapists, and the first ever in Oktibbeha County; her long career stretched from work at the National Polio Foundation in 1947 to her work as a private-practice physical therapist in 2006, from which she retired at the age of 86. A therapy suite at MSU was dedicated to her upon her retirement from the University itself in 1988. Samuel Morris was her grandson.
Kevin Randall, a long-time colleague of Celia’s from their work at MSU, and one of her former patients, spoke of her in a recent interview: “She is, without a doubt, the reason I got interested in physical therapy . . . Don’t get me wrong: I learned a lot of anatomy, and a lot of techniques, but the biggest thing I learned from her is how to treat other people and how to care for them.
“The biggest thing is, she lived 92 years of a wonderful life,” Randall continues. “She influenced more people than I can ever hope to influence. She taught more people. She did more for people . . . She was truly selfless.”0