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Obituaries – April 24, 2014

Earl Thomas Downs

WATER VALLEY—Earl Thomas Downs, age 71, died Friday, April 18, 2014, at his home in Water Valley.
  Born in Yalobusha County February 20, 1943, Mr. Downs was a son of the late Johnny Thomas and Lettie Louise Gordon Downs. He retired as a supervisor for Emerson Electric Company and later worked for a number of years at Davidson Elementary School in Water Valley. He was a member of Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Panola County and enjoyed woodworking, fishing, riding horses, and spending time with family and friends.
  Visitation was held Monday, April 21, from 12 until 2 p.m. in Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Panola County. The funeral service followed at the church with Bro. Jay Anderson, Bro. Phillip Cook, and Bro. Derrick Simmons officiating. Burial was in the church cemetery with Jimmy Sellers, Dee Craig, Eddie Kirk, Cody Forester, Jimmy Dale Sellers, Zachary Sellers, Dub Wilson, and Billy Smith serving as pallbearers. Seven Oaks Funeral Home of Water Valley was in charge of arrangements.
  Survivors include his wife, Frances Marie Howe Downs of Water Valley; a daughter, Earlene Chrestman (Mike) of Pope; a special niece, Mandy Byars (Kenny) of Water Valley; his brother-in-law, Jimmy Sellers; a sister-in-law, Birdie Sellers of Pope; four grandchildren, Christy Marie Chrestman, Brandy Chestman, Jessica Chrestman, and Cody Downs; and one great-grandchild.
  In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, William Russell Downs.

Joe Edwin Hunter

WINONA – Joe Edwin Hunter, 95, passed away at his residence in Winona on April 21, following a tough struggle with cancer.  Funeral services will be Thursday, April 24, at 1:30 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church in Winona, with Rev. Ryan Biese officiating.  Interment with military honors will follow at Winona Garden of Memory.
    Visitation will be Wednesday, April 23, from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m., at Oliver Funeral Home.
    Joe was born in Water Valley on February 9, 1919, to the late Walter Brown Hunter and Elaine Brazeal Hunter.  He grew up in Water Valley with his siblings, W. B. Hunter, Bernice Hunter Baddley and Margaret Hunter Deason, who are all now deceased.  He attended Moorhead Junior College where he met his future wife, Ruth Hood of Winona.  He joined the Army Air Corps, attaining the rank of major.  During his tenure, he flew 78 missions as pilot of a P47 over the skies of Germany during World War II.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his significant contribution to the war effort.  
    Following his return from war, Joe attended Georgia Tech, earning a degree in civil engineering.  Soon after graduating, Joe began making trips to Winona to reacquaint himself with Ruth Hood, who, in his opinion, was “the smartest woman I ever met.”  They soon married.  
    Joe and Ruth opened their first store, Corner Grocery, in Winona, beginning a long, successful career in the grocery business. Few days passed during his retirement when someone didn’t thank him for giving him his first job or tell him how much they missed Liberty Cash Grocery.
    He was an avid and very competitive golfer. Joe was a charter member of the Winona Country Club and was recently awarded the first honorary lifetime membership by the board of directors.  He treasured this acknowledgement by the golfing community.
    In retirement, Joe and Ruth traveled extensively.  He became an accomplished woodworker and acted as “official” golf club repairman for his buddies.  He was blessed with 95 precious years of good health, success, and love of family and friends.  We celebrate his tenacity and grit as we mourn our loss.
    Joe is survived by two daughters, Ann Lindquist and husband, Charlie; Billie Jo Palmer and husband, Jim; four grandchildren, Meg Harris, Hunter Nowell, Ruth Braden and Will Braden; and four great-grandchildren, Ella Harris, Henry Harris, Elizabeth Nowell, and Sims Nowell.
    Memorial contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 302 Summit Street, Winona, MS  38967.
    An online guestbook is available at

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