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James Whit “Slick” Ables, 92, of Mayhew, Mississippi, died November 30, 2020, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
He was born March 5, 1928, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where he attended public schools. After graduating from Carr Central High School, he joined the Mississippi Army National Guard in 1947 and began his long association with the military. He was a sergeant when called to active duty in January 1951 for the Korean War during which he served in the 14th Infantry Regiment. He attained rank of master sergeant and earned the Army Combat Infantry Badge, Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars, and the U.N. Service Medal. After active duty, he continued with the guard and was battalion commander with the 114th Artillery unit at Greenwood then served in the Army Reserve, retiring with rank of major. He was proud to have served in the infantry and artillery. He was reassigned in 1989 as lieutenant colonel in the Mississippi State Guard. In 1997, having attained rank of colonel, he was honored by the State Guard’s second brigade for his many years of military service. He was a life member of the VFW and American Legion.
Slick had a lifelong passion for motorcycling and began his law enforcement career in Vicksburg as one of the city’s first two motorcycle policemen (with Paul Barrett) and later as a detective. He then served the police department at Rolling Fork before joining the Mississippi Highway Patrol, stationed at Greenwood. He was nearly killed in the line of duty in 1959 when struck at night by a hit-and-run vehicle while writing a citation for a speeding trucker. He spent months recovering from a broken pelvis and the head and internal injuries sustained. He retired in 1986 after 32 years, having served as a public relations and safety education officer and as director, motor vehicle inspection/implied consent division. He was a member of the board of the Mississippi Retired Public Employees’ Association.
He was a proud mason and a member of St. David’s Anglican Catholic Church in Mayhew, where he was a member of the vestry.
He married the light of his life, Idabelle Fox Wilkerson, on August 3, 1974, in Starkville. They shared 46 wonderful years enjoying outdoor activities, good food, travel across the U.S. and Europe, concerts, gatherings of veterans’ groups and other associations, Mississippi State men’s and women’s athletics, church, friends, family, and each other. He retired from riding his Harley when he reached 80. He and Belle were with family and friends in Nashville for Thanksgiving when he became suddenly ill.
He is survived by his wife; son Robert William Ables; daughter Betty Ann (Al) Young; grandchildren Kris, Keri, Bobby, Blake, Amelia, and Billy; seven great-grandchildren; nephews Jack and Tim and niece Susan; his former wife Vera Ann Miles; and his companion, driver, and friend Curtis Jones.
He was preceded in death by a son, James Whit Ables, Jr.; his parents, Jackson Henderson Ables, Sr., and Vera Margaret Dove Ables; and a brother, Jackson Henderson Ables, Jr.
Slick was a unique, gregarious individual who never met a stranger, knew and was respected by leaders from all walks of life, and could remember and relate fascinating and humorous experiences, from his childhood to the very end. His signature greeting, both to long-time intimates and new acquaintances, was “Have you met me?” He undoubtedly met St. Peter with that line.
Funeral services will be graveside Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 2:00 P.M., at Memorial Garden Park, 9036 Oktoc Rd., Starkville. The Rev. Michael Traylor and the Rt. Rev. Presley Hutchens will officiate, and the Mississippi Highway Patrol Honor Guard will assist. Pallbearers will be Frank Wilkerson, Bill Wilkerson, Bob Ables, Kris Matthews, David Smith, Curtis Jones, Robert Benoit, and Al Young.
Memorial donations may be made to St. David’s Anglican Catholic Church, P.O. Box 33, Mayhew, MS 39753; or Itawamba Crossroads Ranch, 716 Airport Rd., Fulton, MS 38843.