James Hugh McMurphy, 94, of Forest, Mississippi, passed away on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 in Olive Branch, MS.
Hugh was born in Harperville, Mississippi of James Coley and Elvy Elizabeth McCormick McMurphy on February 12, 1926. They soon moved to Forest and began building a farm on land that his grandfather left his mother. He spent most of his childhood working on the farm until he graduated from Forest High School in 1943. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the United States Army. While in France and Germany, he earned a Bronze Star for his heroic actions. After returning from overseas, he graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering. Upon graduation, he returned to Forest where he met his wife Jonnie Jo Upton and they were married in 1951.
After college, he worked as a parts and service manager for the McCormick Wholesale Company in Forest. In 1960, he began setting up home building programs for the Lackey Home Center. In 1963, he began working at the Sunbeam plant as a foreman and later the plant superintendent until the plant’s closure in 1983. Anyone who knew Hugh remembers that retirement did not suit him well, so he spent the last thirty years of his career as the Scott County Veterans Affairs Service Officer.
Hugh was extremely active in the community and he took his civic duties seriously. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Forest Separate School District; a member of Forest Baptist Church, Joymakers Sunday School class; Good News Singers; Commissioner for the Scott County Soil Conservation District; American Legion; Forest Rotary Club and Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association.
Hugh was preceded in death by his father, James Coley McMurphy, mother, Elvy McCormick McMurphy and brother, Horace McCormick McMurphy.
He is survived by his wife, Jonnie Jo McMurphy; daughter, Lea Ann McMurphy Burns (Robert) of Houston, TX; son, Patrick Hugh McMurphy (Jan) of Olive Branch, MS; five grandchildren, Justin Coley McMurphy (Amanda) of Olive Branch, MS, Anna Lora Whitley (Matt) of Nashville, TN, Allen McMurphy Burns of Houston, TX, Jenna Lynn McMurphy of New Orleans, LA, Graham Bucklin Burns of Houston, TX; four great-grandchildren, Jordan Coley McMurphy, Gage William McMurphy, Mae Elizabeth Whitley and Kaylynn Claire McMurphy.
Funeral services were held at Ott and Lee Funeral Home on Sunday, January 31, 2021. Interment was in Eastern Cemetery with military rites under the direction of Ott & Lee Funeral Home.
Pastor Scott Fortenberry officiated.
Pallbearers were Justin McMurphy, Allen Burns, Graham Burns, Jim McCormick, Noble Lee, and Bill Freeman.