Alumni Obituaries May 2017
Steven Carl, M.Div. 1983, age 59, of Dothan, Alsbama, passed away peacefully on March 23, 2017, after a long battle with cancer. Born May 28, 1957, in Dothan, Alabama, Steve graduated from William Allen High School, Allentown, Pennsylvania in 1975, Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1979, and Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky in 1982. He is survived by three children, Heather Carl of Vancouver, WA, Jason Carl of Perry Hall, MD, and Justin Carl of Glen Burnie, MD, and five grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his parents George W. Carl and Annette Snuggs Lawless, and his brother, Michael J. Carl.
Reverend Dr. Samuel Oliphant Morris III, M.Div. 1970, age 72, entered the church triumphant peacefully Monday, April 3, 2017. Sam was born December 19, 1944 in Charleston, South Carolina to the late Erma Kate (Kitty) and Samuel Oliphant Morris, Jr. After moving to Meridian at an early age Sam graduated from Meridian High School in 1963 and then entered Millsaps College as a ministerial student. In 1966, he graduated with a B. A. from Mississippi State University. He then attended Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, where he was awarded a Masters of Divinity in 1970. He earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in 1991. A gifted preacher and teacher, Sam was also a dedicated, loving and caring pastor. For many persons, Sam was a father, friend, brother, mentor, teacher, preach, rabbi, youth pastor, and pastor. The hallmark of his ministry was his passion for the people and geography of the holy land. Over the last 35 years, he led over 70 trips to Israel and Palestine introducing the land of the bible to an immeasurable multitude of pilgrims. Sam dedicated his life to helping seekers and disciples alike explore the mysteries of faith and devotion. Sam pioneered the youth group movement in Mississippi Methodism in 1970 as associate pastor and youth director at Alta Woods United Methodist church in Jackson, MS. As a gifted musician and singer, he built a significant youth group in a short period of time which was distinguished by the youth performance group JOLAS: Jesus Our Lord and Savior. He later served in similar capacities at First UMC Corinth, Shreveport, and Starkville. Countless youth responded to Sam’s preaching and teaching with confessions of faith. Many of them went on to become pastors, Christian educators, and youth directors. Almost all had life changing experiences because of Sam’s influence. In 1982 Sam was appointed as pastor in charge of Leland UMC. Under his leadership, the church experienced unprecedented growth leading to him becoming Sr. Pastor at Clarksdale UMC in 1986. In 1989, Sam became the preacher and Executive Director of the United Methodist Hour the Mississippi conference’s ministry of Radio and Television. Under his direction, the ministry reached audiences across the nation. In 1995, Dr. Morris was appointed as the lead pastor of Galloway Memorial and served the historic capstone church of Mississippi Methodism until 2002 when he was appointed lead pastor at First UMC Columbus from which he retired in 2012. Following his retirement from pulpit ministry, he served as president of the Jerusalem Institute for Biblical Exploration. Sam possessed a vibrant and magnetic personality that attracted persons of all ages. He effortlessly and easily established deep meaningful relationships with persons of all faith and walks of life. As a faithful and dedicated servant of the gospel, Sam strived for peace and justice in all things. Sam is survived by his wife of 49 years Judy, four sons Sam (Elinor), Isaac (Jynger), Abe (Hanna) all of Madison and Jonathan of the home. A brother Frank (Laura) of Pompano Beach, Florida; and six grandchildren; Samantha, Katherine, Lilly, Luke, Liam, and Junnah.
As a teenager, Tommy Artmann (M.Div. 1979, D.Min. 1998) considered preachers “strange” and unapproachable. The Rev. Samuel Morris III, who died Monday at 72 after a long illness, changed Artmann’s view. Changed it so much, Artmann has spent the past 47 years following in his footsteps. “You could tell he cared about you. It was really as simple as that,” said Artmann, pastor of Clinton United Methodist Church. “At Alta Woods (United Methodist Church), where he was one of the first youth ministers in Mississippi, it didn’t matter if you were a squirrelly little shy kid like me or captain of the high school football team. He loved you. And he made faith and Jesus Christ very appealing. He was the first to make Christ real to me.” “Sam Morris was the face of Mississippi Methodists during that time,” said the Rev. Andy Stoddard, lead pastor of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Madison. “He saw that ministry as a way that people who didn’t even go to church felt connected to the body of Christ. “That’s what Sam was all about. His love for God, his love for Jesus, drove him so hard that he felt it was up to him to make sure everyone understood their worth to God.” Danny Hart, 69, of Madison was introduced to Morris on a local golf course twenty years ago. They became fast friends. “No, he was not a good golfer and neither was I,” Hart said. “But we got a little better as time went along.” Hart faced the intimidating task of teaching a Sunday School class at St. Matthew’s that included Morris. “It could have been more daunting than it was, but he was always so humble and tried to make me feel comfortable as a teacher. During the week, I would be struggling with the lesson, and I would send Sam a text asking for help. He would always bail me out. And the depth of the comments he made in the class were just outstanding.” Morris was known for his love of traveling to the Holy Land. He visited there more than seventy times. “I’d never had any interest in making that trip,” Stoddard said. “The notion of flying over the ocean for hours had never appealed to me. But I wound up going over there with Sam twice, and it was great. Sam knew the culture so well, it brought the Scripture alive.” A video in memory of Rev. Dr. Morris: http://on.thec-l.com/2oC7oXf
Chris Perry, M.Div. 1999, D.Min. 2007, age 42, a former pastor at Robinson Springs UMC in Millbrook, died in his sleep overnight, and is being remembered today as a man of great love for his God, his family and his friends. Perry was very active in the Millbrook and surrounding area during his time here. He loved the theatre, the Grandview YMCA, following the weather and so much more. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.
From a post on his Facebook page: “Sad to hear of the passing this morning of INTERCOT’s Staff Meteorologist Christopher Perry. So young and a guy doing somuch good. Chris was pastor of Good News United Methodist Church in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Will be praying for him this morning and getting together with INTERCOT staff to do something in his memory. Life is so short. Live every moment. From his parents Facebook via Nanci at Magical Journeys: “We just received some very tragic and unexpected news. Our oldest son, Christopher, died very unexpectedly last night. To say we are all in shock is a total understatement. We are getting ready to leave Abilene as quickly as we can to head for Santa Rosa Beach to be with our daughter in law and grandsons. Please keep us all in your prayers.”
Reverend LeRoy Pittman, B.Div. 1950, age 97, of Carbondale, Illinois, passed away at 2:25 p.m. on Thursday, March 23, 2017, at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale. LeRoy was born on December 16, 1919, to John Frances and Julia (Gray) Pittman. He married the love of his life, Vera Johnson, on October 29, 1943. She preceded him in death on July 18, 2011. Rev. Pittman was a graduate of Elkville High School and served his country in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific as a Chaplain’s assistant, and he was honorably discharged in 1945. He attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale (SIUC) where he received his bachelor’s degree and was in the university’s very first graduating class. He continued his education by attending Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, obtaining his master’s degree. As a United Methodist minister, he served many churches in Southern Illinois, including Gorham, Flat Rock, Anna, Granite City (Nameoki), Pinckneyville, Eldorado, Little Grassy United Methodist Camp, Olney (Immanuel) and oversaw major building programs at Granite City and Pinckneyville. Throughout his ministry he set aside honorariums he received for weddings, funerals, etc. and used them to help those in need. He also served on numerous boards and commissions in the Southern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church, including The Wesley Foundation at SIUC. Rev. LeRoy retired as United Methodist minister in 1985, but he continued to minister to those around him, providing comfort and guidance to many people. One of his passions was the Regional & International Wally Byam Caravan Airstream Club where he served as the Regional and International Chaplin. He was a member of the SIUC Alumni Association, VFW, Southern Illinois Center for Independent Living, Learning in Retirement (SIUC) and many church organizations. He was an avid Saluki basketball fan and in recent years could be seen at almost every home game with three of his special friends; he never missed a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game on TV. He was an avid storyteller and always had one ready, especially if you had a chocolate shake for him. Some of his favorite stories were about growing up on the farm outside of Elkville, riding his pony to school, and courting his future wife, Vera. When asked, “How are you?” he always replied, “I’m doing the best I can for the shape I’m in.” LeRoy lived independently until his final hospitalization. He was living at Liberty Estates at the time of his death. He is survived by his two sons, Stephen LeRoy Pittman and Michael Ray (Becky) Pittman all of Carbondale; three grandchildren who were his pride and joy, Nicolas Pittman of Chicago, Amanda Pittman of Carbondale, and Olivia (Skyler) Graskewicz of Pinckneyville; two great-great grandchildren, Sawyer and Gage Graskewicz; and many nieces and nephews. Besides being preceded in death by his wife, Vera, he is also preceded in death by two brothers, Dwight and Howard Pittman; and three sisters, Grace, Nadine, and an infant sister.
Allie Mae Stephens, M.Div. 1986, age 99, of Greenwood, Mississippi, passed away Wednesday, March 29, 2017, at Greenwood Leflore Hospital, just days short of her 100th Birthday. She possessed remarkable physical health, ageless mental acuity, and had notable career accomplishments. She walked faithfully with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, under whose authority she maintained two successful marriages, reared three exceptional children, and rejoiced in having numerous grand and great grandchildren. Allie Mae was born in Teoc, Carroll County, Mississippi, on May 5, 1917, to Thomas J. and Lottie Lipe Lindsey and reared in the Delta communities of Teoc, Sidon, and Cleveland, where she graduated high school. She proceeded to attend MSCW (now MUW) where she graduated in 1939 and began teaching school. Allie Mae married Army soldier Douglas I. Smith on September 25, 1942, at the Sidon Methodist Church in Sidon, Mississippi. Their 36-year marriage, which lasted until his passing in 1978, witnessed service-related moves to Camp Gordon, GA, and Fort Campbell, KY, and was blessed with three children –Douglas I. Smith, Jr., Phyllis Ann Smith, and Barry Glenn Smith. Not to be held back by age or loss, in 1986 Allie Mae obtained a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and ultimately married Hugh Woodrow Stephens, on May 2, 1990; he died May 5, 1998. Allie Mae was a member of First United Methodist Church in Greenwood. She lived a life devoted to Christian worship, prayer, study, and service, which is fondly recalled by the family and friends who observed this grace-filled life led in the Spirit. During WWII, Allie Mae worked in New York City for United Features 2 Syndicate and Newsweek Magazine and then shifted to our nation’s capital where she worked in the War Department (Pentagon). Her English teaching career impacted many young people in Delta communities such as Holcomb, Skene, Morgan City, Itta Bena, and Greenwood, and students as well in Columbus, GA. Allie Mae never really retired, she just reloaded her post-teaching plate with new activities, which late in life became club affiliations, chiefly the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Greenwood Woman’s Club, and the O’Bera Garden Club of which she served as president. Allie Mae also served as the Lindsey-Lipe family historian and storyteller, constructing the families’ genealogical record and filling it with the old photos and lore that made the dusty and dead become alive and interesting. Allie Mae particularly enjoyed her weekly bridge games with her dear sisters, Mary and Margie, and other close friends. Survivors include her three children, Colonel Douglas I. (Linda) Smith, Jr, USA ret., Ridgeland, MS; Phyllis A. Smith, Ocean Springs, MS; and Barry G. (Susan) Smith, Germantown, Tennessee; three grandchildren, Lisa S. Gatlin, Kimberly S. Crothers, and Katherine Douglas Smith; eight great grandchildren, Robert Douglas Gatlin, Audrey Anna Gatlin, Reed Christopher Gatlin, Grant Shepard Gatlin, Quinn Ashburne Crothers, Kacy Lauren Crothers, Quest Kendall Crothers, Ridgeland, and Sage Emrys Beacham-Smith; and sisters Mary Farrish of Greenwood and Margie Wilburn of Sidon. She was predeceased by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Jefferson Lindsey; brothers, John E. Lindsey and Thomas J. Lindsey, Jr.; Sister Lois Prewitt, and infant sister, Patricia Lindsey. Pallbearers are her great grandsons Robbie Gatlin, Reed Gatlin, Quinn Crothers, Quest Crothers, and Grant Gatlin and their fathers Chris Gatlin and Kevin Crothers.