Obituaries October 16, 2013

Ralph Gillespie

TUPELO – Ralph Haggard Gillespie, 86, died Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, at Sanctuary Hospice House after a brief illness. He was born Oct. 13, 1927, in Pampa, Texas, to Harry Ival Gillespie and Mary Rose Turcotte Gillespie. After the death of his mother when he was 8, he was reared by his “second” mother, Callie Sue McCord Gillespie. He was a graduate of Mississippi A&M (now Mississippi State University) with a B.S. degree in agriculture in l951. Ralph married Doris Ann Whitten in Tupelo on Jan. 22, 1949. As a patriotic man, he served two years in the U.S. Navy as a weatherman aboard a ship. He then joined the U.S. Air Force, serving as a pilot, retiring after 20 years of service in the Reserves. His patriotism and loyalty to his country were unquestioned.

Upon returning to North Mississippi after active military service, Ralph and Doris made their home in Pontotoc County where he started Gillespie Farm. His life was devoted to the land and its produce, especially working as a cattle farmer. He spent over 25 years as a Federal Crop Insurance Adjuster, later managing the Tupelo and Charleston offices. He was passionate about his cattle and farm work. However, his primary focus was God, his church and family. He and “Miss” Doris were among the founding families of the Sherman Church of Christ which he loyally attended, taught Sunday school for decades, and served as an Elder. Mr. Gillespie loved and doted over his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren who called him PaPaw, making each of them feel that they were very special. A respected gentleman, Mr. Gillespie was civic minded, being active in several Pontotoc County farm associations.

A service celebrating his life will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, at the Tupelo Chapel of Holland Funeral Directors, including military honors, with Minister Jay Street officiating. A graveside service will follow in the Sherman Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today and from noon to service time Thursday, all at the Tupelo Chapel.

Survivors include his wife of 64 years, Doris Whitten Gillespie of Tupelo; four daughters, Patricia Holcomb (Tim) of Cairo, Margaret Anderson (Frank) of Blue Springs, Nancy Brazeal (Mitch) of Saltillo and Karen Capps (Chuck) of Franklin, Tenn.; one son, Jeff Gillespie (Elaine) of Endville; one sister, Ann Smith of Olive Branch; one brother, Manson Gillespie of Moscow, Tenn.; 11 grandchildren, Jennifer Hudson (Scott), Jacob Holcomb, Julie Eaton (John), Whitt Gillespie (Terri), Anna Rose Anderson, Magers Anderson, Sam Anderson, Kayla Brazeal, Haylee Brazeal, Ross Capps and Kacey Capps. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Joe Allen Gillespie; and his mother who reared him, Callie Sue McCord Gillespie.

Pallbearers will be grandsons, Jacob Holcomb, Whitt Gillespie, Magers Anderson, Sam Anderson and Ross Capps, and grandsons-in-law, Scott Hudson and John Eaton. Honorary pallbearers will be great-grandchildren, Ethan Hudson, Will Hudson and Jack Hudson.

Memorials may be sent to Sanctuary Hospice House, P.O. Box 2177, Tupelo, MS 38803 or to Area 11 Special Olympics, P.O. Box 182, Ecru, MS 38841.

Condolences may be emailed to

Virginia Shannon

PONTOTOC – Virginia Barber Shannon, 96, died Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013, at Sanctuary Hospice House in Tupelo. She was born on April 14, 1917, to Thomas Claude Barber and Alma Grisham Barber. She graduated from Pontotoc High School and attended Delta State Teacher’s College.

Her first job was a typist in the first welfare office in Pontotoc County. It was the C.W. A., a government project set up during the Depression. She worked several years in social work. When she married Claude Raymond “Bain” Shannon in 1941, she was assistant welfare agent of Pontotoc County in the newly organized State Department of Public Welfare.

Mrs. Shannon was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Pontotoc. She served as a member of the Administrative Board, the Trustees and through the years, served on several commissions. She was the chairman of the Committee on Missions and Parsonage Committee for 25 years. She served as vice president of the Methodist Women and chairman and president of the Wesleyan Service Guild. Mrs. Shannon taught Sunday school for a number of years. She was a former member of the Pontotoc Woman’s Club, where she had served as president and served as secretary of the Mississippi Federation of Women’s Clubs Third District. Working with children was one of her greatest joys. She fulfilled this by being an assistant Brownie Scout leader. Mrs. Shannon was also a member of a Home Demonstration Club, “The Work Basket.” She was affectionately referred to as a “True Southern Lady.”

Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, at the First United Methodist Church in Pontotoc with Rev. Kenneth Corley, Rev. Roger Shock and Rev. Milton Whatley officiating. Burial will follow in the Pontotoc City Cemetery. Browning Funeral Home in Pontotoc is in charge of the arrangements.

Survivors include her daughters, Millicent Shannon Seawright and husband, Bill, of Pontotoc, and Sally Shannon Gillentine and husband, Ken, of Tupelo; a sister-in-law, Julia Yandell and husband, Ben, of Madison; three grandchildren, Molly Seawright Lovorn and husband, Barrett, Clayton Gillentine and John Shannon Gillentine; and one great-granddaughter, Mary Kiley Lovorn.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; two sisters, Doris Barber and Louise Barber Torres; and a grandson, William Joseph “Will” Seawright Jr.

The pallbearers will be Eddie Ray, Philip Graham, Ken Roye, Mike Simon, Johnny Campbell and Ronnie Winter.

The family would like to acknowledge her special caregivers, Kaye, Velma, Peggy and Lottie.

The visitation will be at the First United Methodist Church today from 5 to 7 p.m. and on Thursday from noon to 1 p.m.

Memorials may be sent to the First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 308, Pontotoc, MS 38863.

Online condolences may be offered at

Ellis Huddleston

BOONEVILLE – Surrounded by his loving family, Ellis Earl Huddleston, 76, died quietly in his home Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, after an extended illness. He was born Oct. 12, 1937. He graduated from Wheeler High School in 1957 and honored his country by serving in the U.S. Army from 1957 to 1960, including a one-year tour of duty in Turkey.

While working at Liberty Cash Supermarket, he met and later married Linda Geno in 1964. They made their home in the Thrasher community and attended Thrasher United Methodist Church. Ellis worked at Liberty National Insurance for the next 27 years. He was also a master craftsman who built beautiful oak cabinets and furniture. In his spare time, he fished, hunted quail, watched NASCAR, and golfed – all with a group of friends who made his shop their second home. Ellis made people laugh; he teased his nieces and nephews relentlessly. A loyal friend, Ellis knew everybody, and everybody seemed to know him.

After his cancer diagnosis slowed him down, Ellis became an avid reader. Sitting next to Linda in their dual recliners, Ellis read over 2,000 novels, sharing the better stories with his wife.

Funeral services, with military honors, will be in the Booneville Funeral Home Chapel, today, Oct. 16, at 11 a.m., with Bro. Kevin Yearber officiating. Burial will be in Crossroads Cemetery.

He is survived by daughters, Charla Harbin of Harvest, Ala., and Mitzi Soto (Norberto) of Madison, Ala.; sons, Trent Huddleston (Belinda) and Steve Huddleston (Elizabeth), both of Booneville; a brother, Bill Huddleston (Jeri) of San Diego, Calif.; a sister, Betty Johnson (Bobby) of Wheeler; three grandchildren, Nikki Holton, Michael and Mollie Harbin; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and stepgrandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Homer and Bessie Huddleston, and his sister, Donna Gentry.

Pallbearers are Wayne Hall, Charlie Huddleston, David Huddleston, Bobby Johnson, Mike Stevens, Norberto Soto-Fuentes, John Wroten, Terry Yates, and Ellis’ sons, Trent and Steve Huddleston.

Memorials may be made to Thrasher United Methodist Church, 236 CR 1101, Booneville, MS 38829 or the Crossroads Methodist Cemetery Fund, P.O. Box 584, Booneville, MS 38829.

Laurice Smith

COLUMBUS – Laurice Annelle Ferguson Smith died peacefully at home on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. A worship service celebrating her life was held in Columbus at First United Methodist Church on Sunday, Oct. 13. The organ was silent in her honor. Officiating were Rev. Stylon Anthony Proctor, Rev. Elizabeth Raigan Miskelly and Rev. Anne-Russell Bradley. Internment was at Friendship Cemetery in Columbus. Memorial Funeral Home of Columbus was in charge.

Laurice was born in Columbus on Sept. 7, 1929, to the late James Leon and Jessie Leona Reynolds Ferguson. She graduated summa cum laude from MSCW in 1951 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a minor in music. While at the W, she was president of the American Guild of Organists. As a lifelong member of FUMC, Laurice served as organist for 37 years and held numerous offices in United Methodist Women. After serving as Starkville District UMW treasurer for eight years, she was currently president, a role which brought her great joy through the new friendships she was making. In a word, she spent her life serving the Lord.

Laurice was preceded in death by her parents, James Leon and Jesse Leona Ferguson; her sister, Helen Claire Ferguson Brock and husband, Walter Hollis Brock; and brother, James Lloyd Ferguson.

Laurice is survived by her husband of 61 years, Harold Franklin Smith. Together they traveled the country in their RV, finding themselves inspired by God’s creation. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Annie Louise Vaughn Ferguson. Additionally she is survived by three children: Amelia Annelle Smith Perkins (Lyndon) of Tupelo, Harold Franklin Smith Jr. (Leslie) of Columbus and Laurice Claire Smith Swede (Greg) of Olive Branch; seven grandchildren: Michael David Perkins (Betsy) of Tupelo, Anna Christine Perkins Russell (Benjamin) of Peekskill, N.Y., Nathaniel Haywood Perkins (Molly) of Pomona, Calif., Harold Franklin Smith III of Columbus, Andrew Horace Smith of Columbus, Shelby Anne Swede of Olive Branch, Bradley Laurence Swede of Olive Branch and James Franklin Swede of Olive Branch; one great-grandchild: Evangeline Grace Perkins of Tupelo.

Pallbearers were the seven grandsons. Honorary pallbearers were Ronda Andres, Jane Crigler, Doris and Howard Fisackerly, Patti Johnson, Diane Lawrence, Joan Rhett, Faye Tabor, Betty Thornbrough, Becky Tipton and Judy Waller.

Memorials may be made to the Music Program or United Methodist Women at First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 32, Columbus, MS 39703; or to Palmer Home for Children, P.O. Box 746, Columbus, MS 39703.

Rufus Jeffries

TUPELO – Rufus Jeffries, 70, died Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, at North Mississippi Medical Center. He was the son of the late Rufus and Willie B. Jeffries. He was a member of Peoples Community M.B. Church in Tupelo, where he was a member of the Usher Board and the Brotherhood. He worked at Air Cap Inc. until he retired.

Services will be at noon Thursday, Oct. 17, at Peoples Community M.B. Church. Burial will be in Tupelo Memorial Park. N.L. Jones Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.

He is survived by one daughter, Angela Gross; one son, Corry Gross (Sandra); three grandchildren, Joshlyn Coleman, A’Vona Cannon and Aiden Gross; two brothers, Virgil (Everlena) Jeffries, Charles Sr. (Annie) Jeffries of Memphis; and two sisters, Shirley Murphy and Aredena (Willie) Warren of Memphis.

The body will lie in repose at the church one hour prior to service time.

Patricia Chism

NEW ALBANY – Patricia Ann Chism, 55, died Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, at North Mississippi Medical Center. She enjoyed crocheting, fishing and spending time on the computer. She was employed at the New Albany Hospital. She was a cosmetologist and a member of Keownville Baptist Church.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Keownville Baptist Church with Bro. Farron Ash officiating. Burial will be in the church cemetery. Waters Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Survivors include her husband, Randy Chism of Keownville; daughter, Christy Simmons (Chris) of Shannon; brother, Steve M. Harper (Rhonda) of New Albany; and grandchildren, Seth Simmons, Sadie Simmons, Shelby Simmons, Bart Tompkins and Crystal Tompkins.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Billy and Beulah Harper; and her grandparents, Cletus and Ophelia Smith.

Pallbearers will be Paul Harrison, Jimmy Perkins, Richard Chism, Jason Yarbrough, Bo Hill and David Yarbrough.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Keownville Baptist Church.

Michael Walker

RIPLEY – Robert Michael Walker, 55, died Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, at Tippah County Hospital. He was born Sept. 21, 1958, to Hugh and Nellie Brewer Walker. He was a Methodist and a factory worker.

Services will be at 2 p.m. today, Oct. 16, at Ripley Funeral Home Chapel with Bro. Doc Shelton officiating. Burial will be in Falkner Cemetery.

He is survived by his parents, Hugh and Nellie Walker of Falkner; two brothers, Hugh Walker Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Brandon Walker (Logan) of Falkner; one stepbrother, Anthony Walker of Tennessee; one stepsister, Debbie Clifton (Ward) of Potts Camp; and a special friend, Nancy Barber of Ripley.

He was preceded in death by two sisters, Debra Walker Grant and Brenda Walker Mitchell.

Pallbearers will be John Willis, Eric Milton, Jack Colston, Richard Swinford, Thomas Ashmore and Kerry Bryant. Honorary pallbearer will be Robert Koon.

Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. today at Ripley Funeral Home Chapel.

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Gertha Davis

RED BAY, Ala. – Gertha Mae Davis, 81, died Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, at Red Bay Hospital.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at Deaton Funeral Home Chapel in Red Bay, Ala. Burial will be in Mt. Zion Cemetery at Golden. Deaton Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. today at Deaton Funeral Home in Red Bay and until service time on Thursday.

Bobby Mabry

CORINTH – Bobby Gene Mabry, 78, died Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, at Magnolia Regional Health Center. He was born Oct. 14, 1934. He received his education at Easom High School. He was an employee of the State of Tennessee, a Marine Corps veteran of the Korean conflict and a member of Macedonia M.B. Church.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at Macedonia M.B. Church with the Rev. Lawrence Norris officiating. Burial will be in Corinth National Cemetery. Grayson-Porter’s Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.

He is survived by his wife, Royace Harbor Mabry of Corinth; his son, Billy (Veronica) Mabry of Memphis; brothers, Taylor (Ada) Mabry of Memphis, Don Henry (Bertha) Mabry of Lawton, Okla., Sylvester Mabry of Corinth; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by a son, Bobby Gene Mabry; and a brother, Evans Franklin Mabry.

Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. today at the church.

Willis Baston Jr.

POTTS CAMP – Willis Herman Baston Jr., 77, died Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, at his home in Potts Camp.

There are no plans for a memorial service. Coleman Funeral Home is in charge of local arrangements.

Memorials may be made to the Marshall County Humane Society, P.O. Box 625, Holly Springs, MS 38635.

Online condolences may be left at

Shirley Sheward

WEST POINT – Shirley Carol Dragoo Sheward, 76, passed away on Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, at North Mississippi Medical Center in West Point. She was born Dec. 25, 1936, in Muncie, Ind., to Helen Bader and Thomas E. Dragoo.

Services will be at 6:30 p.m. today, Oct. 16, at Robinson Funeral Home Chapel in West Point. Visitation will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the funeral Home.

She is survived by her sons, Donald Sheward Jr. of West Point and Thomas Sheward (Jasmin) of Columbus; her daughters, Jessica Fairbrother, Reba Graff and Donna Cherry, all of Tupelo; brothers, Steve Dragoo of West Point and Joe Dragoo of Wheeler; daughter-in-law, Lisa Sheward of Portland, Ind.; 11 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Friends may leave condolences online at

Dr. William Stewart Sr.

EUPORA – Dr. William S. Stewart Sr. died Monday, Oct. 14, 2013, at his residence in Eupora.

Services will be at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Eupora First Baptist Church. Burial will be in the Eupora City Cemetery. Oliver Funeral Home of Eupora is in charge of arrangements.

Visitation will be 6 until 8 p.m. today at the Eupora First Baptist Church and 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home.

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