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Obituaries 05/27/2023

Flora Bell Bland

WATER VALLEY – Flora Bell Bland transitioned to her new home on May 16, 2023, at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford. Burn August 26, 1942 in Taylor, she was one of 12 children born to the late Eddie McGee and Ossie Martin MeGee.

Flora accepted Christ at an early age and joined North Hopewell M.B. Church of Taylor. She later moved her membership and joined Everdale M.B. Church of Water Valley where she served faithfully as church clerk, Sunday School teacher, member of the missionary society and Baptist Training Union Instructor and worked with the finance committee until her health faded

Flora was married to the late David Bland and to this union three children were born. She worked at Mott’s Incorporated, Big Yank Incorporated and retired from Parker Hannifin in Batesville.

A wake is scheduled Wednesday, May 24, at Everdale M.B. Church in Water Valley from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Services will immediately follow at 1 p.m. with burial in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Seven Oaks Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

She leaves to cherish her memories one daughter Linda Torrance of Water Valley; two sons, David Lynn Bland of Water Valley and Jason LeShun Bland of Duluth, Ga.; five grandchildren, Brandon (Santana) Torrance and Jaleesa Lyntrice Torrance of Oxford, Lyntonio Dontreal Bland and Antonio Lynshaun Bland of Memphis, and Exavier LeShun Bland of Duluth, Ga; one great-grandchild, Sa’Naigh Torrance of Oxford; six sisters, Mary Ella (Miller) Backstorm of Joliet, Ill., Daisy Walton of Water Valley, Osceola (Paul) Knight of Joliet, Ill., Loretta Betts and Diane McGee, both of Stafford, Texas, and Luvenia (Howard) Philips of Taylor; one brother, Wille (Regina) McGee of Taylor; three aunts, Annie Curtis of Memphis, Maudie Rockette of Water Valley and Roberta Johnson of Taylor; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, relatives and friends.

Four brothers, Edward Earl McGee, James McGee, Chester McGee, and Tommie McGee, preceded her in death.

Marjorie Ann Harbison Godwin

WATER VALLEY – Marjorie Ann Harbison Godwin, 88, went home to be with her Lord on Friday morning, May 19, 2023. She was at her home in Water Valley, attended by her family. Margie (as most people knew her) was a daughter, wife, momma, granny, aunt and friend, she was this and so much more.

Margie was born September 10, 1934 to Joseph Thomas and Mable Inora Rodgers Harbison of Greenville. She lived in Greenville for many years. She married Clarence Eldon Godwin of Water Valley on July 26, 1950 and they were married for 53 years prior to his passing in 2003. They were blessed with six children.

Margie was a member of Faith Chapel Church in the Banner Community. She faithfully attended Sunday morning services, even though her health was failing. When she was unable to attend, she continued to pray for the church and its members.

Margie worked many jobs in the retail area for the first part of her married life, but knew she wanted to do more. At the young age of 40, with the aid of her children and the encouragement of others, she pursued her dream of nursing. She received her LPN license in the spring of 1975. She worked in the medical field for over 30 years, retiring only when her husband became ill, although she didn’t stop being a ‘nurse’.

She enjoyed reading, working crossword puzzles, cooking for others and, above all, sharing the Gospel with anyone she encountered. She never met a stranger, but if she did – when their conversation ended, she was no longer a stranger. When she became unable to take herself to the store, she would be chauffeured by one of her children and they would ‘try’ to keep up with her.

Margie is survived by two sons, Eddie (Vickie) Godwin of Water Valley and Danny (Susan) Godwin of Horn Lake; four daughters, Susie (Buster) Potts of Water Valley; Pat Potts of Water Valley; Shirley (George) Wells of Water Valley and Becky (Robert) Ball of Fairview, Tenn.; two sisters, Connie Sprouse of Water Valley and Linda Stern of Metairie, La. She is also survived by eight grandsons, five granddaughters, 18 great-grandchildren, three great-great grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews as well as friends and neighbors.

Margie was preceded in death by her parents, Joseph Thomas and Mable Inora Harbison; her husband, Clarence E. Godwin; two sisters, Billie Faye Jones of Water Valley and Janet Frederick of Kansas City, Mo., and an infant brother, Richard Harbison.

Visitation was held Tuesday, May 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Gardiner Room at Seven Oaks Funeral Home with the celebration of life immediately following in the Henry Chapel.

Brother Doug Orlando of Faith Chapel church officiated. Burial was at Pinecrest Memorial Cemetery immediately following the service. Pallbearers were Curtis Godwin, Tommy Potts, Glenn Potts, Luke Potts, J.J. Potts, Jeremiah Wells, Wesley Potts and Austin Potts. Honorary pallbearers were D.J. Godwin and Michael Potts.

Larry Sam Swearengen

RIDGELAND – Larry Sam Swearengen, 79, died May 14, 2023, at his home. A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on June 3, 2023, at St. Columb’s Episcopal Church in Ridgeland. Visitation begins at 1 p.m. and reception in Parish Hall will follow the service.

Larry was born on September 20, 1943, in Grenada, the son of the late Thomas Steven Swearengen and Louise Hardy Swearengen. The family moved to Water Valley and Larry enjoyed growing up where everybody knew him. After graduating high school at Water Valley, Larry continued his education at Mississippi State University. He played in the last Liberty Bowl to be held in Philadelphia. He was perhaps best known for the MSU/Alabama game of 1963 when he intercepted a Joe Namath pass for an MSU pick six. He was the first member of his family to graduate college. Larry enjoyed success coaching youth sports in his younger years.

He is preceded in death by two brothers. Robert Earl Swearengen and Thomas Steven (Betty Ruth) Swearengen, Jr.; and a sister, Genora (Charlie) Holloway.

Larry had a long and successful career at the Mississippi Department of Mental Health as the Director of the Division of Community Services and enjoyed helping others. He retired from the Department of Mental Health in 2000. He received the Kinloch Gill award in 2000 for Outstanding Service in the field of Mental Health.

Larry continued in the field of mental health serving twice as the Executive Director of the National Alliance of Mental Health of Mississippi, advocating services for consumers and families who struggle with mental illness. Larry had a gift of strategic planning and vision that allowed him to develop and implement mental health programs aimed at empowering staff and consumers and their families. In 1985, Larry became the Executive Director of the Region 15 Mental Health Care Center in Vicksburg. His vision and leadership allowed the center to move out of debt and initiate services to improve the lives of the consumers, their families and staff.

He enjoyed reading, golfing, eating out and laughing with his family and friends. Larry participated in fostering and then adopting many adult rescue dogs. His nickname of Big Solid came about as a result of the bond he shared with his first rescue dog, Amos. They were known as the Solid Boys as they were always together, Amos being Little Solid and Larry being Big Solid.

The Deerfield Duffers led by Larry engaged the Packer Hackers (from Madison, Wis.) for the Dixie Cup Challenge and played possibly the coldest golf match ever played. The Wisconsin team, on the way to the Super Bowl in New Orleans, made the brief stop over for this epic game of golf.

Attendance at Super Bulldog weekends and reuniting with the Liberty Bowl Dogs of 1963 was an exercise in sharing old memories, bemoaning two-a days and the telling, enhancing and retelling of so many games, plays, coaches and other shenanigans.

Larry was also known for his energetic and often colorful commentary watching MSU Bulldogs on television. On one occasion his wife transcribed his ‘critiques’ of various plays and sent them to her mentor, David Zimmerman, PhD of the University of Wisconsin, who to this very day dissolves into hysterical laughter at some of the phrases he’d obviously never heard before.

Larry is survived by his two children whom he adored from the day they were born, Robert Powell Swearengen and Lindsey Shannon Swearengen Taylor; two grandchildren, David Benton Taylor, Sara Powell Taylor; and his wife of 38 years, Janne Patterson Swearengen. He was preceded him in death by one grandchild, Camryn Elizabeth Taylor.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Animal Rescue Fund (ARF) so they may continue to support rescue and rehabilitation of homeless and abused animals.

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