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Obituaries 05/12/2022

Joe Ann Byford

COFFEEVILLE – Mrs. Joe Ann Byford, 84, of Coffeeville, passed away Sunday, May 8, 2022 at the Yalobusha General Nursing Home in Water Valley.  She was born September 1, 1937 to Curtis and Lucille Green Hendrix.

Mrs. Byford spent most of her working life as a factory worker. She was a member of Calvary Baptist Church.  She will be lovingly remembered as a devoted wife and a caring mother and grandmother.

A graveside service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, in Broom Cemetery near Coffeeville with Rev. Craig Baker officiating.  Family and friends will gather one hour prior to the service Wednesday at the Broom Chapel.

Survivors include a daughter, Teresa Mixon (Gary) of Coffeeville; four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Edward C. Byford; son, Criss Byford; and two brothers, Curtis, Jr. and Mike Hendrix.

Lamar Wilson Gatewood, Jr.

FOREST – Lamar Wilson Gatewood, Jr., 82, a lifelong resident of Forest, Miss., passed away at his home Sunday, May 8 after an extended period of health challenges. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lamar Wilson Gatewood, Sr. and Marie Booth Gatewood, and his brother, Dr. James Verner Gatewood. He is survived by his devoted wife of 60 years, Water Valley native Barbara Vaughn Gatewood, two daughters, Alicia Joyner (Mike) of Tallahassee, Fla. and Gayla Steed (Shane) of Olive Branch; his sister, Larie Allen (Barry) of Louisville, Ken., seven grandchildren and five first cousins.

Lamar’s life found expression in and through the overlapping experiences of his families:  his faith family, biological family, community family and business family. His daily life was characterized by duty, honor, achievement, confidence and courage all of which contributed in some way to the privileges and opportunities enjoyed by his various families today.

Blessed by God with a beautiful baritone voice, Lamar used that gift for the glory of God as a soloist and choir member of the Forest Baptist Church for more than 50 years, and with his daughters as they presented Christian musical programs throughout middle Mississippi. As a faithful churchman, he served in numerous leadership roles, including deacon, Sunday School Superintendent and adult choir President.

As a husband, his love for Barbara and her love for him were unlimited, unconditional, unselfish and unchangeable because it was grounded in Jesus Christ. He was supportive of Barbara in her career in art as she was of his career in the family business. As parents, they instilled in their daughters their values, and they followed the biblical admonition “to train a child in the way she should go and when she is old, she will not turn from it.”  They taught us all by their example it is more important what we leave “in” our children and grandchildren than what we leave “to” them. Lamar also was an avid hunter and fisherman, and a master at outdoor grilling. He enjoyed many experiences with his extended Gatewood family at the family lake house as well as fishing trips with his friends to the Gulf of Mexico.

As a citizen of the community, Lamar invested over the years his time, talents, treasurer and testimony for his community family’s betterment. Among his leadership opportunities were Chamber of Commerce Director, Rotary Club President, Forest Country Club President, Charter President of Forest Community Arts, Easter Seals State Board, 2014 Citizen of the Year, Christmas Parade Grand Marshall, and Mid-Mississippi Development District Director. Alongside these responsibilities he served as University of Mississippi Scott County Alumni Association President and was selected as an Outstanding Young Man of America.

After excelling in Junior College basketball, Lamar graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1961, a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity,  with a Bachelor of Business Administration and returned to Forest to join his father in L W Gatewood Wholesale Grocery, a business his father established in 1940. At the time he served his country in the Mississippi Air National Guard. Throughout his career and until his retirement, Lamar treated his customers and his employees as family with a commitment to prompt, dependable and quality service, and loyalty.

Services were Thursday, May 12 at Forest Baptist Church with interment in Eastern Cemetery in Forest with Dr. Barry Allen officiating.

Pallbearers were Nelson Kaye, George Taylor, Scott Palmer, Mike Joyner, Shane Steed and Matt Alford.  Honorary pallbearers were Honorable Bill Waller, Jr., Judge Tom Lee, Thomas Colbert, Dr. Scott Gatewood, Verner Ray Gatewood, Tom Brown, Dr. John Paul Lee, Allen Breland and Dr. Gordon Sansing.

The family requests memorial gifts to the American Cancer Society or Forest Baptist Church in lieu of flowers.

Ernest D’Elmer Keel

WATER VALLEY – Ernest D‘Elmer Keel, age 77, of Water Valley passed from this life Monday, May 9, 2022, at his home surrounded by family. He was born May 24, 1944, in Banner to the late Raymond and Margie (Terry) Keel. His wife of 32 years, Sandra Keel, also preceded him  in death.

Ernest was a down-to-earth kind of man who was brought up knowing the value of hard work. He began working at an early age as a laborer at a local saw mill. He then went to work at Big Yank in Water Valley where he would become shipping and receiving clerk, a job he would hold for over thirty-five years. In September, 1974, He married the love of his life, Sandra Bonner, and started their family.  Ernest found enjoyment in simple activities, such as hunting, fishing, gardening and raising flowers, as well as playing the guitar and piano. He was a member of Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church.

Visitation is scheduled Wednesday, May 11 in the Gardiner Room at Seven Oaks Funeral Home from 1 until 2 p.m. Services will immediately follow at 2 in the Henry Chapel of Seven Oaks with Bro. Roger Howell officiating. Burial will be in Oak Hill Cemetery in Water Valley.

Ernest is survived by one son, Johnny Lee Ware, Jr., of Courtland; three daughters, Karen Kilpatrick (Timothy), Angie Gentry all of Water Valley, and Sharon Ware (Kevin Kramer) of Strayhorn; one sister, Ila Mae Keel of Derma; 12 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

In addition to his parents, Ernest was preceded in death by his wife of 32 years, Sandra Keel.

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