My cousin, Soyna Elinor Wood Marcase, who lives in Pineville, Louisiana, mailed me the following article as it appeared in her local newspaper on November 30, 2013. She wrote as follows: "I don't know Dr. Blount, but thought Neshoba Democrat readers would enjoy reading about so gifted a native son."
And so we do. The article reads that Dr. Blount grew up in Philadelphia, the youngest of six children born to the late Sally and Henry Blount, and brother to Frances Blount (Richard) Molpus.
Henry became a clergyman in 1947, and was summoned to take the helm at First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Louisiana in 1989. He was pastor of that church four different times in subsequent years. "I've retired eight times during my ministry," he laughs. "Wherever there was a need, I tried to fill it."
The church came calling again. Henry's lifetime of service to his faith, and the faithful, was celebrated at First United Methodist Church in Alexandria recently when the congregation installed him as "Pastor Emeritus." Quoting the Reverend Donnie Wilkinson, First Methodist's present senior pastor, "The "Pastor Emeritus" is a way of honoring someone who's been an important member of the congregation, even after retirement. The title is ceremonial, with no responsibilities, but lots of honor."
"Henry will be our first preacher to become "emeritus," as far as I know in the history of this church," said Paul White Sr., a member of FUMC since 1928. "He knows so many people and everyone who knows him loves him." "To me, it means "welcome back," said Henry following the installation service. "It is an honor that I will cherish as long as I live."
While a student at Millsaps College, he got his preaching license. His first church was a little Methodist Church in Decatur. As a college senior, he had to hitchhike to his next preaching job in Canton. "Despite having to thumb my way to work, I always got there on time," he recalls with a laugh.
Life accelerated for Henry after finishing at Millsaps with an undergraduate degree in sociology, enrolling in theology classes at Emory University in Atlanta, and later obtaining a Doctor of Ministry degree at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, with an emphasis in pastoral care and counseling.
Henry describes his "theme" during his ministry as spiritual information. "I wanted to help deepen the spiritual life and let people know that they are not bodies with a spirit, they're spirit with a body.
Of all the roles a pastor must play in the church, I have enjoyed counseling. In that way, I always felt I could do something to alleviate the problems and pains people were facing."
January is the beginning of a new year for all of us. Jan.13, 2014, marked the beginning of Hazel Allen's 92nd year, and she is still going strong in her role as mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend to many.
Her son, Jon Allen, and grandson, Eli Allen, who live in Apex, North Carolina surprised her with a birthday visit. The three of them surprised her son, Ken Allen, by attending his surprise 70th birthday at the Jackson Yacht Club.
The party was hosted by Ken's children, John and Kimberly Allen Green of South Dakota and Cody and Kate Allen of Jackson. Among the guests at the party were Bob and Jackie Allen Hand of Grand Isle, Louisiana and Bill Lea.
Jon and his wife, Margaret, are the parents of six of Hazel's grandchildren, all of whom were home-schooled by their mother. Hannah is taking a six-month school break to hike the Appalachian Trail before entering graduate school at North Carolina State University.
Will, a graduate of North Carolina State, lives in Washington, D. C. where he is employed by the New York City based publication, National Review Magazine. Gabe is a student at North Carolina State.
Sixteen-year-old twins, Eli and Seth, and ten-year-old Sophie, are still working toward their summa cum laude graduate honors. Jon is employed at the University as a computer analyst.
Clara Ann Johnson Lewis' 80th birthday party was a semi-surprise to her. "Because our family has gotten so large, let's have the party in the Fellowship Hall at Carolina Presbyterian Church. We'll gather at two in the afternoon and grill steaks about five," her children told her.
Clara Ann saw no sense in going so early, so she didn't. The surprise was that guests began arriving at two o'clock for a surprise birthday party, and no honoree was present!
The party was hosted by Clara Ann's children, Bobby and Lisa Johnson Wilbanks, Jim Pat and Mary Jean Johnson, Tony and Daree Johnson, and Jennifer Gross, and granddaughter Kristin Ogletree.
Mary Jean baked and decorated strawberry, Italian cream, red velvet, and lemon-lime pound cakes for the party.
Special guests included Clara Ann's husband, John Lewis, her sister, Pat Banks Woodrick and the Reverend Lavelle, and four of her grandchildren, Kristin Ogletree, along with Neal, Blaine and Judd, Jamey Johnson, and Julie and Jenny Wilbanks.
Regan and Ryan Stephenson were unable to attend their grandmother's party, as was her brother Bill Banks.
Other family members attending the party at Carolina Presbyterian Church, which has been Clara Ann's church home for more than sixty years, included her cousins, Jerry and Ruth Williamson, Tommie Banks and Babs Kirkland.
Among the many church and community friends enjoying the celebration with Clara Ann were her pastor, Perry McCall and his family, and her quilting friends from Louisville, Carthage and Philadelphia.
Happy January Birthday to Hazel, Ken, and Clara Ann, and let's add my friend Dawn Mars, who is celebrating her birthday today, January 29, 2014!
Peyton is going to the Super Bowl and we are going with him! What an exciting day for his Neshoba County family and friends!