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William Basil Earnest: September 27, 1924 – October 8, 2020
William Basil Earnest whose love of God, family, and community guided him throughout his life, passed away on October 8, 2020. He was born September 27, 1924 to Pearl Brown Earnest and Oscar E. Earnest in Hackleburg, Alabama. Oscar was the Superintendent of Itawamba Agricultural High School from 1931-35 and the Caledonia School System Superintendent from 1935 through the mid-1940s. To the delight of his wife, Oscar decided the family should return to Fulton in the 1940s. The daughter of Tobe and Bettie Brown, Pearl had a large family in Itawamba County. Both Oscar and Pearl’s families had settled in Itawamba County in the early 1800s giving them deep ties to the community.
Basil was educated at Guin Elementary School, Fulton Grammar School, Caledonia High School, The University of Vermont, and The University of Mississippi. He was president of his high school senior class, attended The University of Vermont as part of his military service and Army Air Corps training, and attended Ole Miss beginning in 1946 on the GI Bill after his military service.
Basil was a World War II veteran having served with the 10th Army in Okinawa. For the rest of his life, Basil was interested in Okinawa and concerned for the Okinawan people. He was an American Legion member for 72 years.
On December 30, 1951, Basil married the love of his life, Annie Stone Robinson. Annie Stone’s family in Tremont had also settled in Itawamba County in the 1800s. Basil and Annie Stone owned Earnest Ace Hardware and Earnest Furniture and Appliance in Fulton for 35 years. Basil operated the businesses and was also a Rural Mail Carrier on Routes 1 and 2 in Fulton for 27 years. He served as President of the Mississippi First District Rural Letter Carriers Association. Basil was very proud of his wife, Annie Stone, who “did the books” for the businesses and taught at Itawamba Agricultural High School.
Basil served his Lord faithfully. He was a member of the Fulton United Methodist Church and was Chairman of the Administrative Board, Lay Leader, Lay Speaker, Sunday School Teacher, and on the Sanctuary Building Committee.
A man who cherished his hometown of Fulton and all of Itawamba County, Basil considered civic duty a privilege and made it a priority in his life. He enjoyed supporting and promoting the City of Fulton and Itawamba County. As President of the Itawamba County Development Council, Basil was one of the ICDC leaders instrumental in bringing Mueller Brass to Fulton. Basil served as Fulton Rotary Club President and Lions Club President. Basil was honored to receive the Rotary Club Paul Harris Fellow recognition and was a member of the Bancorp South Community Board of Directors for 31 years.
The proud parent of two girls, Basil frequently commented on the joy of having girls. He is survived by his daughters Terri (Jimmy) Chism of Lakeland, TN and Tina (Mark) Myers of Memphis, TN. Basil is also survived by his grandchildren, Anna (Phillip) Jordan, Katie (Jeff) Sendelbach, and David Ursic. He is survived by his great grandchildren, Ray Chism Bright, Ella Leigh Jordan, Tucker Jordan, Parker Sendelbach, and Corrine Sendelbach.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Annie Stone Earnest, his grandson, Jim Chism, and his parents, Oscar and Pearl Earnest.
A private graveside service will be held at Itawamba Memorial Gardens on Sunday, October 11, with McNeece-Morris Funeral Home in charge of the arrangements.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Fulton United Methodist Church or Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital Foundation.
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Sunday, October 11, 2020Itawamba Memorial Gardens
3800 Highway 178 E
Fulton, MS 38843