By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
Readers have called with questions about 79-year-old Tupelo resident Jacque Prather.
A recent story followed Prather’s life from birth to age 17. A caller from Jackson said, “What happened after that?”
If you missed the story, visit djournal.com and search for “Prather.” One of the top results will be “A Tupelo story: Even in youth, Jacque Prather was a working man.”
Space won’t allow an exhaustive account, but here’s some of the rest of the story.
After high school, he spent six weeks at the University of Mississippi, then joined the Army, where he guarded the home of the commanding general of the Army.
“He came in at 1:30 a.m. He had been to a Christmas Eve party,” Prather said. “He called me to him.”
Prather got worried when he was told to put his rifle by the door. Then drinks were poured from a bottle of Black Jack.
“He said, ‘Me and you are going to have a drink to celebrate Christmas,’” Prather said. “I said, ‘I can’t drink on duty.’ He said, ‘You see all these stars on my shoulder? Anything I tell you, you consider a direct order.’”
They drank and talked about Prather making a career in the Army, something he had no plans of doing.
When the get-together ended, Prather learned that drinking with the guards was the general’s Christmastime tradition.
“He told me not to tell the next guy,” Prather said. “I sure didn’t.”
Upon his return to Tupelo, Prather gave Mississippi State a try. He even earned a football scholarship from Darrell Royal.
But Royal was fired, and the next coach wanted Prather to earn the scholarship all over again. Prather declined and went to Itawamba Junior College.
During that time, he worked as a lifeguard. That’s where he met his wife, Patti. After the marriage, he returned to MSU.
“I did it right this time,” he said. “You could say my priorities changed.”
He earned a teaching degree, but the best teaching job he found offered a yearly salary less than he’d made doing odd jobs during college breaks.
He was a painter and handyman, then worked for Pepsi. He also ran a restaurant, but eventually landed at North Mississippi Medical Center and became laundry manager. That’s where he retired.
Prather and his wife live on 12 acres off West Jackson Street. He has catfish ponds and raises trees.
“I’ve got a tree from Valley Forge,” he said.
Prather had surgeries in recent years. The prolonged recoveries threatened his sanity until he started writing.
His first book was “Memories of the Men of My Youth,” a nonfiction account of his early days. He followed that with “For Their Country,” a fictional story about American heroes.
Both self-published works are at Lee County Library’s Mississippi Room for anybody wanting to learn more about Prather’s life and imagination.
M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or(662) 678-1589.