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James Thurman

By submitted, 03/20/22 3:16 PM

James Harold Thurman passed away on Saturday, March 19, 2022, at the age of 100. James was born on April 10, 1921, in Stephens, Arkansas. He was raised in Waldo, Arkansas, and was the youngest of 10 children. Those left to cherish his memory include his wife of 77 years, Wilma White Thurman, three children, Glenda Thurman Hugg of Maumelle, Patsy Thurman Bonds (Bobby) of Blevins and Phil Thurman (Teddy) of Blevins. Seven grandchildren, Jeff Butler (Cecily) of Texarkana, Brian Hugg (Theresa) of Washington, David Thurman (Missy) of Blevins, Holly Robbins (Eric) of Conway, Amy May (Ronald) of Colleyville Tx, Lacie Blake (Matt) of Bella Vista and Niki Olson (Chris) of Fort Smith. Survivors also include numerous great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews, and friends.

James began driving a gravel truck for his father at the age of 17 which brought him to Blevins, Arkansas during the construction of the Southwest Proving Grounds. While driving through Blevins with a load of gravel, a young woman walking down the road caught his eye. He learned that she was a member of the local Nazarene Church, so he attended a service to ask her on a date. The young woman was Wilma White, a Blevins High School student. James would pick Wilma up and let her ride with him to the gravel pits and drop her off in Blevins before delivering the load of gravel to the Proving Grounds. During their courtship, war was starting to rage across the world. Then on December 7 1941, the United States was pulled into the war with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. James signed up the next day for the U.S. Navy and was sent to Corpus Christi, Texas to one of the Navy’s aviation training facilities where he trained to be a flight engineer for the Consolidated PBY Catalina, the flying boat.

James and Wilma kept in contact through letters and the two married on May 18, 1944. James was deployed to California in 1945 where he would join the Naval fleet preparing to deploy to Okinawa. His new wife followed him and the two spent as much time together as they could before he boarded the USS Granville for the 45- day journey to Okinawa. James was a part of a seven-man crew of the Catalina and they flew patrols looking for submarines and conducted rescue missions in the Pacific. James sat at the top of the large plane where he could access the engines during flight. His section had windows on either side where he could watch out and alert the crew of enemy aircraft. After the war, James returned home to his beloved Wilma and the two moved all over the U. S. while James worked as a surveyor. The young couple started a family and eventually settled in Blevins, Arkansas, where they began a farming business.

James was extremely proud of his family and spent countless hours with his grandchildren on the family farm as they were growing up. He passed down his love for the outdoors by teaching them to hunt, fish and drive his pick-up so that he would have a “chauffeur” to check on his cows.

James was a proud member of the Blevins School Board for 15 years and served as Justice of The Peace for Hempstead County for 11 years. James was also director of the Marlbrook Cemetery for 44 years from 1973 to 2017. Blevins officially named their baseball field “James Thurman Field” to honor him for his many years of support and service to the team. James was also instrumental in the development of the Ozan Creek Rural Water System which serves much of Hempstead County. In more recent years, while in his 90’s, James earned the Triple Trophy award 3 times. This achievement is given to elite hunters of Arkansas that harvest a deer with archery, muzzleloader and modern gun in the same season. James lived a very long, happy life and will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Bells Chapel Church of Nazarene, Kathy Salisbury Treasurer 862 Hempstead 23 Hope, Arkansas 71801

Visitation will be 1:00 pm to 2:00pm on Thursday March 24, 2022, at BRAZZEL/Oakcrest 1001 South Main St. Hope Arkansas 71801.

Funeral service will be 2:00pm Thursday March 24, 2022, at BRAZZEL/Oakcrest with Bro. Leslie Salisbury officiating. Burial will follow with Military Honors in Marlbrook Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of BRAZZEL/Oakcrest The Funeral Home of Hope, Eddie Brazzel Director. Online condolences: www.brazzelfuneralhomes.com