James (Jim) McDougal Garey passed away at the age of 89 on Monday, Dec. 16, after a courageous battle with cancer. Jim was born in the Hookers Bend community of Hardin County on July 4, 1924. He was the seventh and youngest child of William Roscoe and Mary McDougal Garey.
He spent his early years on their farm, attended Antioch Elementary School and graduated from Saltillo High School in 1941 at the age of 16. He then moved to Nashville and completed one year at Tennessee Business College, while working at the Maxwell House Hotel and Kay’s Ice Cream Shop.
In 1942 he enlisted for service in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Upon completion of basic and advanced training in radio communications he was assigned to the 2nd Engineer Special Brigade where he would spend the next two and a half years in the Southwest Pacific Theater of Operations with an amphibious unit in Australia, New Guinea, Philippines and at the end of World War II in South Korea.
Military decorations and citations included the Philippine Liberation Ribbon, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars and with arrowheads and the Presidential Unit Citation and World War II Victory Medal. He was discharged honorably with the rank of Sgt. Technician 4th Class in December 1945.
After the war, Jim moved to Memphis and worked at Sears, where he met his wife Flora Black and they were married on Dec. 14, 1946. They moved to Martin where Jim entered University of Tennessee at Martin and earned an Associate Degree in Agricultural Education in 1947, then transferred to Mississippi State University earning the Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Education in 1949. He then taught school in Hickory Flat, Miss., until 1951. Jim and Flo moved to Savannah, Tennessee in 1951 where he took a job with the Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative.
They joined First United Methodist Church and were active members for nearly 60 years. Jim sang in the choir, played hand bells, and served as a Sunday School teacher. He was on the building committee when the new church was built in the early 1960s and held numerous offices throughout the church over the years.
In 1965, Jim took a position with the Tennessee River Pulp and Paper Company in their Public Relations Department and continued to work there until his retirement in 1986. He was elected a Savannah City Commissioner in 1987 and served in this capacity for eight years. He was appointed Vice-Mayor of Savannah from 1991-1995 and in his later years worked part time at Shackelford’s Funeral Home in Savannah.
Jim was a charter member of the Savannah Rotary Club and served as a Rotarian for over 50 years. He received the highest honor in Rotary, the Paul Harris Fellow Award. He was also elected Young Man of the Year by the Savannah Jaycees in 1959. While living in Savannah he was a member of the Board of Directors for the Hardin County General Hospital and was active in many activities related to his children’s education, including the PTA and the Savannah Central High School Band Boosters. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Savannah Little League and the local Boy Scouts organization. He was a person who loved music, playing the piano and organ and was a member of the Savannah Organ Club. He volunteered at the Chamber of Commerce and as a teacher for the AARP senior citizen’s driving course. He was a member of the Savannah Little Theatre Group and acted in several plays and musicals over the years.
Preceding him in death in addition to his parents was his wife of nearly 65 years, Flora Black Garey. Also his sisters, Katherine Eason and Martha Anne Goff and brothers Edward, William (Bootsy) Chalmers and Douglas Garey.
He leaves two sons, Dr. David Garey (Connie) of Jackson, Tenn., and Mark Garey (Daphne) of Franklin, Tenn. He also leaves four grandchildren; Alex, Eli, McKenzie and Madison Garey.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, Dec. 19, at First United Methodist Church in Savannah, Tenn., at 1 p.m. with Ron Brown and David Miller officiating. Burial will be in the Oakland Cemetery in the Hookers Bend community.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials be sent to First United Methodist Church in Savannah, Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Jackson, or The American Cancer Society.