Perry Van Willingham, Jr., 86, of Vidalia,LA and formally of Greenville, MS, joined his heavenly Father and his beautiful bride on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at Hardy Wilson Memorial Hospital in Hazlehurst, MS.
He was the son of Perry Van Willingham, Senior and Alice Adelia White Willingham of Drew, MS, who preceded him in death. The love of his life and wife of 65 years, Addie Phillips Willingham, left this earth to begin preparing for her husband’s arrival on August 21, 2011. He never stopped missing her from the moment she left this world and always lit up with joy when anyone spoke of her, and we know he was elated to see her again Wednesday morning. He was a member of First Baptist Church in Vidalia, La.
After more than 40 years in management positions in Mississippi and Louisiana with Bunge Grain Corporation and Concordia Grain Corporation he retired but his retirement only gave him more time to do what he loved most. He spent most of his time away from his job tinkering with things in his shop and coming up with new inventions, including the perfect way to attach an umbrella to a lawnmower to keep the sun off of your back. He took great pride in his yard and was insistent in recent days that his family let him leave the hospital so he could get home to take care of it because no one would ever manicure the lawn quite like he could.
His legacy lives on through one son, Perry Joe Willingham and his wife Irene of Bastrop, LA and one daughter, Nancy Willingham Thompson and her husband Jackie of Hazlehurst, MS. Some of his greatest joys in life were his grandchildren who lovingly referred to him as “Pa”. He is survived by one grandson, Chris Willingham and wife Jessica of Virginia Beach, VA, four granddaughters, Tami Willingham and sister Ami of Lafayette, LA and Jennifer and Brandt Walker of Jackson, MS and AliceClaire Thompson and fiancé Jason Scott of Jackson, MS. His joyful heart lives on through his two precious great granddaughters, Mary Hampton Walker of Jackson, MS and Gracie Willingham of Virginia Beach, VA as well as several nieces and nephews who loved him dearly. While we mourn the loss of his earthly life we must not forget his main priority on this earth, a much loved and very spoiled Maltese puppy, “Baby Love” who became an immediate member of the Willingham/Thompson family.
A private memorial graveside service for family and close friends will be held at 11:00 Friday morning, October 3, 2014, at Greenlawn Memorial Gardens in Natchez, MS.
In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial gifts be given to First Baptist Church Missions Ministry, Hazlehurst, MS, in his memory and in honor of Doctor Randy Hankins who has taken exceptionally good care of him in recent weeks and years. The joy in these days of loss comes from our knowing we will see our beloved father and grandfather again one day and one thing is for certain, he will have his guitar waiting for us when we all find our way to glory. Until that day comes, we’ll carry his torch from here.