William Owen Mayfield Jr.
Funeral services for William Owen Mayfield Jr., of Ridgeland, are today, Oct. 3, 2017, at 2 p.m. at The Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Brookhaven with burial at Rosehill Cemetery in Brookhaven. Riverwood Family Funeral Service in Brookhaven is in charge of arrangements.
Visitation will be today, Oct. 3, 2017, from 1 p.m. until time of service at the church.
Mr. Mayfield, 89, died Friday, Sept. 29, 2017, at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland. He was born in Greenwood, April 27, 1928. He was the son of William Owen Mayfield, who died on July 5, 1943, and Myrtle Fulgham Mayfield, who died on Dec. 26, 1975. A younger sister, Sara Ann Mayfield Rankin died April 29, 1997. He spent his boyhood and early youth in Brookhaven. He attended the Roman Catholic parochial school of St. Francis of Assisi through the eighth grade where he was taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame. A member of the parish, he was an altar boy who often served Mass celebrated by Father Martin McHale, the town’s popular priest. He then attended Brookhaven High School, graduating in the Class of 1946. This class received brief national notoriety when Time Magazine reported in its weekly column, “Miscellany,” the “smelly performance” of the senior class play when a watchman-chased skunk abruptly joined the audience on opening night. Owen had fond memories of classes in English literature and grammar, taught by Theresa Abshagen; in American history, taught by Josie Burns; and, in algebra and geometry, taught by Principal Steve Renfro. At Brookhaven High, Owen lettered in football, basketball and track, and played center on the successful football team of 1944 which, during the regular season, lost only to the state champion McComb team, and had two post-season victories, including the Lions’ Bowl game of 1944 against Newton High in Jackson.
Following graduation from Brookhaven High School, Owen was admitted into a naval aviation program of the United States Navy which allowed attendance at the college of choice before entrance into flight training at Pensacola, Florida.
He attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, from September 1946 to May 1948. He was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. At Tulane, he particularly enjoyed the French language classes of Professor Ditchy; the classes in Greek and Roman history and culture of Professor Geer; and, the creative writing class led by Professor Husband with Roark Bradford as author in residence.
Entering flight training in Pensacola, Florida, in June 1948 as an aviation midshipman, Owen completed this training in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 17, 1950 when he was designated a naval aviator. He was assigned to the Mediterranean fleet, and joined Patrol Squadron 26, an anti-submarine squadron, in Port Lyautey, French Morocco, where he was commissioned Ensign USN in June 1950. During the transfer of this squadron to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, on June 25, 1950, the Korean War began. In August 1951, Owen returned to Port Lyautey, joining Transport Squadron 24, which had frequent flights to the capitals of Western Europe in logistical support of NATO, and to the Mediterranean seaports of the Sixth Fleet of the U.S. Navy.
In December 1952, he was released from active duty in Washington, D.C. Later, he continued active reserve service until 1969 by joining Naval Air Reserve Squadrons located in Brooklyn, New York, and Memphis, Tennessee, while living in those vicinities.
In January 1953, he entered Columbia University in New York. He was a member of the bicentennial class of 1954, in the undergraduate school for men, Columbia College, obtaining a bachelor of arts degree. At Columbia College, he was privileged to attend some of the classes taught by the school’s great faculty, which included Mark Van Doren, Jacques Barzun, Lionel Trilling, Gilbert Highet and C. Wright Mills. In 1955, he entered the School of Business at Columbia University where he received a Master of Science degree. A lasting memory was his attendance in a class taught by professor Phillip Dodd, co-author with Benjamin Graham of “Security Analysis,” the seminal text in this field, which, through the years, has had many updated editions.
He returned to Mississippi in the summer of 1955 and entered the School of Law at the University of Mississippi. He was a member of the Law Journal and Moot Court Board, and was nominated to Omicron Delta Kappa. He graduated in the Class of 1958, obtaining the degree of Bachelor of Laws in June 1958, and, later, the degree of juris doctor in May 1968. At law school, the faculty included Dean Robert Farley, John Fox, Joel Bunkley, Hector Currie and William Murphey.
After law school, Owen married in July 1958 and lived briefly in McComb, where he practiced law, before moving to the Mississippi Delta where he lived with his wife and family, first, in Tutwiler and then in Clarksdale. When the marriage ended, he moved to Jackson in 1990. At the time of his death, he was a resident of Ridgeland.
Preceding him in death were his parents, William Owen Mayfield and Myrtle Fulgham Mayfield; and sister, Sara Ann Mayfield Rankin.
Survivors are his three children, William Owen Mayfield III, (Stephanie), of Seattle, Washington, Julia Mayfield Ott, (Paul), of Ridgeland, and Laura Mayfield, of Clarksdale; grandson, Paul Vegas Ott Jr. and Charlie Ott; and step grandson, Ted Langlie and Arthur Langlie.
Memorials may be made to the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, P.O. Box 804, Brookhaven, MS 39602, or to the Mississippi School of the Arts, P.O. Box 229, Brookhaven, MS 39602.