February 18, 2015 Edition

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Jim Austin James Steven Blaxton J.M. Johnson
Robbie Turley Kincade J D Melton Mary Elizabeth Mize


Jim Austin

Coach Jim Austin, 80, of Peach Orchard, passed away Monday, Feb. 9, 2015, from injuries sustained in a two-car collision on Highway 304 near Pocahontas.

Born June 14, 1934, in Peach Orchard, he was the son of Pelham and Esther (Toler) Austin.

Jim Austin's affiliation with the Delaplaine School System began in 1940 at the Peach Orchard School, where he attended through the sixth grade, before transferring to Delaplaine. While at Delaplaine, Jim, known as "Coach" to all those who knew him, excelled in basketball and baseball.

After graduating from Delaplaine in 1952, he enrolled at Arkansas State College in Jonesboro, lettering in track and basketball.

On July 24, 1954, he married his wife of 60 years Marietta (McRee) Austin. After receiving his BSE in 1957, Jim was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army. While stationed at Fort Sill, Okla., he coached company baseball and basketball. Post Army, he was hired to teach at the Knob School in 1959. The following year he transferred to the Knobel High School. In 1965 Coach Austin was hired as the head basketball coach at Delaplaine High School.

Coach Austin's career at DHS was exciting, and he had many accomplishments. In 1972, his senior high basketball team won the District 5 championship and he was named the Area 5 Coach of the Year. Throughout his career, it was common for Coach Austin to pay for lunches, vitamins, shoes, uniforms and many other things for students who were unable to afford such items, making it possible for them to participate in school sports.

Taking a break from basketball and track during the summer of 1969, Coach worked in Sarasota, Fla., as the trainer for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago White Sox and the Cleveland Indians rookie league. Among his players was a 17-year old Buddy Bell, who went on to play for the Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds and Houston Astros.

Coach Austin's passion for sports was the force behind him starting the track program at Delaplaine. With no budget and a big heart, he built the track, field, hurdles, pole vault pit, high jump pit and long jump pit with his own hands. He even built a concrete basketball court in Peach Orchard to give the local kids somewhere to play. The facilities may have not been state-of-the-art, but it didn't prevent him from pumping out champions.

Delaplaine became known as having an outstanding track program with outstanding athletes. Many district and state records were broken over the years, with many of them still remaining. In 1974, Coach Austin was named the AAU Region 8 track coach for Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, and headed up the teams at the National AAU meet in Lincoln, Neb.

Among his protegees were three high school All-Americans; daughter Kippi, son Blaine, and Courtenay Curtis. All three excelled at track and basketball. He also coached Arkansas State Representative David Cook.

Coach Austin has been in AAU Summer Track for 40 years, and had three students that were national champions.

He retired from teaching in 1991, but remained as a volunteer coach until the school closed in 2007. Since most of the athletes transferred to the Hoxie school system, Coach began volunteering his time with that program. While volunteering at DHS, the senior girls track team won five consecutive state championships. The senior boys had two second-place finishes during that same time.

Coach Austin was considered by officials as the premier track coach in the state of Arkansas.

Coach Austin is the father of three children; Robin born in 1958, Kippi born in 1960 and Blaine born in 1964. He was also grandfather to Darrick Bridger, Mason Gott and Connor Gott.

Funeral was Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Hoxie High School Gymnasium. Burial was in Pirtle Cemetery at Peach Orchard. Ermert Funeral Home of Corning had charge of arrangements.

An online guestbook is available at www.ermertfuneralhome.com.

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James Steven Blaxton

James Steven "Shorty" Blaxton, 66, of Black Rock, died Feb. 17, 2015, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Graveside service is Thursday at Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in Birdeye. Time of the service will be announced later by House-Gregg Funeral Home.

Visitation will be prior to the service with John Noles officiating.

An online guestbook is available at www.housegreggfh.com.

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J.M. Johnson

J.M. Johnson, 91, of Hoxie, died Feb. 11, 2015, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

Born Sept. 21, 1923, in Athens, Ala., he was the son of Charles Herman and Sarah Elizabeth Thompson Johnson. He served as mayor of Hoxie for 16 years. He also served on the Quorum Court, the Hoxie City Council and as a constable. He was of the Baptist belief.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ellen Pauline Phillips, on Feb. 14, 2000, whom he married Jan. 12, 1942; a son, Tommy Johnson; and a brother, Charles Johnson.

Survivors include five sons, Richard Johnson, Bono, Larry Johnson, Sulphur Springs, Texas, Dale Johnson, Hoxie, Roger Johnson, Fairdealing, Mo., and Junior Briner, Walnut Ridge; two daughters, Geneva Waldrupe, Hoxie, and Paula Binkley, Ironton, Mo.; 10 grandchildren, Brett Johnson, Josh Johnson, Josh Binkley, David Binkley, Shannon Black, Gail Neck, Crystal Cox, Alyssa Harl, Seann Johnson and Elizabeth Scott; and 10 great-grandchildren, Rebecca Blazer, Melissa Eddens, Veronica Johnson, Bradley Eddens, Ian Fletcher, Emelyn Johnson, Beck Black, Quinn Black, Stormy Peterson and Katlyn Peterson.

Funeral was Saturday at 2 p.m. at Bryan Funeral Home with Junior Briner officiating. Burial was in Lawrence Memorial Park.

Pallbearers were Jimmy Waldrupe, Junior Waldrupe, Richard Johnson, Dale Johnson, Roger Johnson, Jeremy Black, Brett Johnson and Junior Briner.

An online guestbook is available at www.bryanfh.com.

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Robbie Turley Kincade

Robbie Turley Kincade, 65, died Feb. 13, in Hazen.

Born June 27, 1949, in Walnut Ridge, he was the son of the late Frank and Mildred Turley Kincade.

Survivors include five sisters, Lois Smith and husband Don, Seymour, Mo., Joyce Somers, Murrysville, Pa., Linda Huckaba and husband Harlan, Menifee, Calif., Marilyn Henson and husband Gary, Flint, Mich., and Frankie Coffman, Port Royal, S.C.; 13 nieces and nephews; and several great-nieces and great-nephews.

Funeral is Thursday at 2 p.m. at Bryan Funeral Home with Bro. Don Smith officiating. No visitation or graveside service will be held.

Family and friends will serve as pallbearers.

An online guestbook is available at www.bryanfh.com.

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J D Melton

J D Melton, 69, of Hoxie, died Feb. 14, 2015, at his home.

Born Aug. 9, 1945, in Saffell, he was a carpenter at Arkansas State University and a member of the Hoxie United Methodist Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lee and Agnes Brewer Melton; a brother, Pete Melton; and a sister, Norma Hackworth.

Survivors include his wife, Lora Sudduth Melton, whom he married Aug. 31, 1968; two daughters, Tami Melton and Christy Steele and husband Chris, all of Walnut Ridge; a brother, James Melton, Jonesboro; three sisters, Willene Erwin, Cherokee Village, Berline Stewart, Sherwood, and Maxine Russell, Hardy; and three grandchildren, Dakota Steele, Caitlyn Steele and Logan Melton.

Funeral is today at noon at Bryan Funeral Home with pastor Garry Wiles officiating. Burial will be in Lawrence Memorial Park.

Pallbearers will be Gary Melton, Scott Luther, Danny Melton, Kevin Melton, Barry Melton, Alan Baldridge and Bobby Erwin.

An online guestbook is available at www.bryanfh.com.

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Mary Elizabeth Mize

Mary Elizabeth Mize, 81, of Strawberry, died Feb. 13, 2015, at the White River Medical Center.

Born Dec. 20, 1933, in Jesup, she was the daughter of Eddie and Freda Guthrie Smith. She was a homemaker and a member of the Eli Lindsey United Methodist Church.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Leland E. Mize, whom she married Nov. 13, 1950; a son, Ronald Gene Mize; and two sons-in-law, Jerry Hoggard and Bobby Doyle.

Survivors include a son, Robby Mize and wife Annette, Strawberry; two daughters, Linda Hoggard, Strawberry, and Peggy Doyle, Cabot; a sister, Carol Penn and husband Wayburn, Jacksonville; nine grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandchild.

Funeral was Monday at 10 a.m. at the Eli Lindsey United Methodist Church in Jesup with Rev. John Stoll officiating. Burial was in Lancaster Cemetery under the direction of Bryan Funeral Home.

Pallbearers were Jeffery Massey, Gregg Howard, Robert Howard, Bo Hicks, Dickey Penn and John Hughes. Honorary pallbearers were Sloan Durham, Nathan Howard, Charles Penn, Mike Durham, Denny Durham and Boyce Penn.

An online guestbook is available at www.bryanfh.com.

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