Jimmy Wayne Runnels
Nov. 25, 1931 – Nov. 2, 2018
NATCHEZ — Services for Jimmy Wayne Runnels, 86, who died Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church of Natchez with Dan Wynn officiating. Burial will follow at Greenlawn Memorial in Natchez under the direction of Laird Funeral Home.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. today at Laird Funeral Home.
Our family was forever changed November 2, 2018 with the passing of our family’s hero, Jimmy Wayne Runnels, lovingly referred to as “Dad” in this final tribute and farewell.
Born November 25, 1931 on a working farm in Mize to Vardaman and Lois (McCallum)Runnels during the post -Depression era, Dad learned the meaning of a hard day’s work and just how much he never wanted to spend the rest of his life plowing behind a team of mules. Setting his sights on higher aspirations and with the local sheriff’s permission, Dad became the youngest school bus driver in his county at the young age of 14, and at 19 left for Jackson, where he began a 35-plus year career with Mississippi Power and Light Company.
Shortly after becoming a lineman he traveled to Natchez, where fate landed him inside a local Walgreens drug store gazing into the eyes of the prettiest young cashier he had ever seen. Mom used to love telling the story of how she often wondered how Dad could purchase so many packs of gum on a daily basis!
Burdia and Jimmy Wayne pledged their love June 4, 1953, and started a family the following year, ultimately bringing three sons into the world. The one exception Dad ever made to being a boastful man was when it came to his sons. We knew beyond a shadow of a doubt how much he loved us. As early as our memories take us, Dad always took time after a hard day at work to play with us, hunt with us and attend our ballgames sometimes running between ball fields when all three of us had games on the same day. After we became grown men it wasn’t uncommon for someone from the church or one of Dad’s friends to share with us how much Dad talked about us and how proud he was of the men he and Mom had raised. I can say that his love and pride for us pales in comparison to the deep love, respect, and admiration in being the sons of such a faithful Christ follower and devoted husband.
Dad and Mom were very hospitable throughout their lives and if there was anything our dad loved more than listening to his prized Walker hounds running foxes through the countryside, it was socializing over a good game of Rook or dominoes with close friends and family.
Although Dad spent 35-plus years at Mississippi Power and Light Company he continually looked for other avenues of improvement both professionally as well as personally. He took continuing education classes and attended real estate school, becoming a licensed real estate broker in the 1970s, specializing in farm, timber and ranch land. He loved nothing more than walking the southern rolling hills with prospective customers who always knew without question they had met a friend.
After spending most of their lives in Natchez, Jimmy and Burt moved to Big Sandy, Texas, in 2002 where they lived their retirement until Mom’s passing in 2010. Dad’s sunset career found him as the unofficial property manager of Roads End Ranch where his daily duties included trying to stay one step ahead of the dastardly gophers wreaking havoc in the hay pastures, official tastemaster of Mom’s delicious daily desserts, deer spotter, timber cruiser and friend to anyone who drove through the gate. Most all holidays and special occasions involved Dad saying Grace over every meal, surrounded by his treasured family and friends.
Dad’s deep religious faith and love for the Lord were instilled into his family and extended to all his friends and neighbors. It was not unusual to see him knocking on doors of strangers and inviting them to church. It has touched our family’s hearts when men have shared their testimonies of how their lives were forever changed because of the commitment Dad had to bringing the love of Jesus Christ to all he encountered.
Although he will be more than deeply missed we rejoice in knowing that Mom and our little brother, Benji, welcomed him into paradise. Without a doubt, Dad is walking beside Jesus and running his beagles in the hunting fields where weary has no name.
Preceding him in death are two brothers, Kenneth and Douglas; one child, Benjamin; and both of his parents.
Dad is survived by his three sons, Mike and his wife, Demetra, of Weatherford, Texas; Tim and his wife, Amber of Natchez, and Ronnie of Houston; eight grandchildren, Adam, Hunter, Tanner, Andrew, Christopher, Brooke, Carsen and Cami; two great-grandchildren: Hayden and Gabe; three siblings, John Runnels and his wife, Phyllis, of Bartlesville, Okla., Bobbie Nell Fortenberry and her husband, Bobby, of Mobile, Ala., Hoyt Runnels and his wife, Pat, of The Woodlands, Texas; and numerous nephews, nieces, and extended family.
Carrying dad to his final resting place will be pallbearers Christopher Carrell, Adam Runnels, Andrew Godsey, Ethan Loyed, Gary Holloway and Paul Marchbanks.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at lairdfh.com.