Joseph S. Moak Sr.

Published 7:50 pm Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Funeral services were held today at noon for lifelong LincolnCountian Joseph S. Moak Sr., at Riverwood Family Funeral ServiceChapel, with a private graveside interment following in RiverwoodMemorial Park. The Revs. Greg Warnock, Mac Massey and David Dotyofficiated. Mr. Moak, 86, died peacefully on Friday, July 16, 2010,at Golden Living Center/Brook Manor Nursing Center in Brookhaven;he had been in failing health for some time.

Mr. Moak was born on Nov. 14, 1923, at Norfield in south LincolnCounty; his parents were Samuel Dewitt Moak and Nellie Sasser Moak.He was widowed, his beloved wife of almost 62 years, Pauline BaileyMoak, having died in September 2008. He is survived by his twosons, Dr. Joseph S. Moak Jr. and Dr. Edward S. Moak, both ofBrookhaven; their wives, Linda Biedeger Moak and Patricia PorterMoak; and six grandchildren, Joseph Samuel Moak III, AnnaChristilles Moak, Rosemary Stowe Moak, Sydney Porter Moak, EdwardSidney Moak Jr. and Whitney Bailey Moak. He is also survived by abrother, Tom L. Moak, and his wife, Sue F. Moak, of Brookhaven, aswell as a number of nieces and nephews. Another brother, HarryMoak, preceded him in death in 1972.

A retired registered professional engineer for more than 55 years,Mr. Moak enjoyed many years of service with both Mississippi Powerand Light, and Georgia-Pacific at their Monticello mill; he wasalso for a number of years, a partner, with his brother, in PerkinsHardware, locally. He also maintained a private engineeringpractice. He additionally was a registered land surveyor.

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Mr. Moak was valedictorian of his high school class at Bogue Chittoin 1941; he then attended Copiah-Lincoln Junior College for oneyear, transferring to Mississippi State where he received, withhonors, a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1948, his studiesinterrupted by military service in World War II. Under the auspicesof the United States Army, he was for the year 1946, a student inEuropean government at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1943, Mr. Moak was a staff sergeantin a combat engineering battalion in the European Theatre, withsignificant time well ahead of the advancing Allied armies, andsometimes behind German lines, clearing minefields and reopeningbridges and roadways. In three separate actions in the winter of1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. Mr. Moak received consecutiveBronze Stars; in the final of those encounters, the Purple Heart.Reentering Mississippi State in early 1947, he became drum majorfor the ROTC Band, some 200 members strong; he received hiscommission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air ForceReserve. He was recalled to active duty as a bombardier in theKorean War, his B-36 squadron remaining stateside. In 1956, hetransferred to the United States Naval Reserve, retiring in 1980with the rank of commander; in the 1960s, he was commander of thenaval reserve unit based in McComb. Therefore, quite unusually, hereceived Honorable Discharges from all three major United Statesmilitary services.

A long record of community activity accompanied Mr. Moak. He wasfor three decades the secretary for the Brookhaven Kiwanis Club. Hewas a charter member of the Krewe of Ceres, twice serving as theirpresident; in 1971, he was chosen as King of the Krewe’s annualCharity (then Harvest) Ball. In the 1960s, Mr. Moak, as a memberand, later, president, of the Brookhaven School District Board,helped guide a peaceful desegregation of local schools.

From an early age, Mr. Moak was known as a prodigious and skilledpianist; he could play by ear as well as read music; he waspassionate about his avocation, and he played professionally onmany weekends during his college years and for many yearsfollowing, as well. He composed a number of original pieces,copyrighting several. He was also a proficient vocalist, and he wasfor years part of the sanctuary choir at First Baptist Church,where he was a lifelong member, teaching a youth Sunday Schoolclass for 13 years.

Mr. and Mrs. Moak, affectionately known as “Big Joe and Ms.Pauline” to many Brookhavenites, were widely known as graciousentertainers in their home to their many friends and family; notsurprisingly, piano music from the dexterous fingers of Mr. Moakfilled many lovely evenings, enjoyed by all. Mr. Moak was alsoknown for his wry humor and rapier-like wit, as well as hischarming and collegial personality. Mr. Moak maintained a highlevel of academic curiosity through his lifetime, and was an avidreader.

Mr. Moak, along with his late wife, were most particularly proud oftheir having mentored two sons through their becoming physiciansand returning to Brookhaven and building long-term practices. Theybecame ardent supporters of Brookhaven Academy, where fivegrandchildren have graduated and the remaining granddaughter iscurrently a student.

The family requests, in lieu of flowers, that memorials be directedto the Brookhaven Academy Educational Foundation.

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