“ When we all reach the end of our earthly journey, we will have just begun .” - Billy Graham
Leon Harrell, a lifelong resident, and pillar of the Branch Community, Morton, Mississippi passed away suddenly at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center on June 24, 2022, following a brief illness. The celebration of his life will take place at Groveton Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 6651 Hwy 481 North, Morton, Mississippi on Sunday, June 26, 2022, with visitation beginning at 2:00 p.m., service to follow at 5:00 p.m. Following the service, Leon will be laid to rest in the church cemetery.
Leon Franklin Harrell was born on November 10, 1936, 85 years and 7 months ago in Scott County, Mississippi as the third child of Carl Lee Harrell and Lelia Oredis Bates Harrell. He grew up in the Branch community and graduated from Branch High School in 1957.
He developed a passion for raising cattle and other animals on the farm at an early age when his daddy gave him his first cow and calf. This led to over 75 years “in the cattle business.” He also worked at Talon (the zipper plant) for a few years and later joined his dear friend Jimmy Thompson in the painting business. Leon’s favorite saying about work was, “If you are going to do something, do it right!”
Leon was affectionately known as Leon, Daddy, Papaw Leon, Uncle Leon, Pearl, and Ned by his family and friends. He had many stories to tell, and he enjoyed sharing them with anyone who would listen. One of his favorite stories was how and where he met Rachel, his wife of 63 years. This story took place at the Scott County Basketball Tournament in Sebastopol, MS in 1954. The Branch Bumble Bees and Ludlow Blue Jays were playing in the tournament and he spotted Rachel, a pretty, little blonde with a long ponytail walking to the bus. He always said he knew right then she was “the one” and they were married about 4 years later, on December 24, 1958. His stories are now treasured gifts from his childhood and his long life lived.
He cherished spending time with his family and always attended his children’s and grandchildren’s events and activities. He enjoyed carrying on a summertime tradition of making and eating delicious, homemade lemon ice cream, something that he loved doing with his daddy. In his younger years, Leon also enjoyed riding horses, fox hunting, and deer hunting on the local game reserve, in the Mississippi Delta, and at a hunting camp in Shubuta, Mississippi.
When relaxing in his recliner, he could be found watching his favorite basketball teams, Duke and Gonzaga, as well as watching football, softball, rodeos, or listening to classic country music. Leon also loved gardening. Spring never came quickly enough. He took great pride in planting and growing his garden to share with others. In addition to gardening, he made many trips up and down Airport Road each day in his little white Toyota to check on his cows. He looked forward to Monday evening picnics at the park when he sold cows and enjoyed going to cow and chicken sales. On the weekends, Leon enjoyed eating out at a good seafood restaurant with his family. He would not admit it, but he also enjoyed the occasional trip to the Smokey Mountains, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the Canton Texas Flea Market.
Leon’s family has fond memories of his “Cow Book,” a journal of cow records, grandchildren’s height and weight, dates of birth, dates of death, phone numbers, and prices of feed and hay. This book holds a little bit of everything that was important to him.
He was a lifelong supporter and active member of Groveton Cumberland Presbyterian Church where he served as a Deacon and Elder of the church for more than 50 years.
Leon is survived by his loving and faithful wife of 63 years, Rachel P. Harrell, daughter and sons: Rita Harrell Withers (Jimmy), Johnny P. Harrell (Angelyn), and Tommy Neal Harrell (Genia), grandchildren: Marcus Leon Withers, Mindy Leigh Withers, Shelby Harrell Gordon, Spencer Neal Harrell, and Payton Harrell, great-granddaughter: Addison Grace Gordon, sisters-in-law: Mattie Ruth Harrell and Stella Louise Prestage, as well as his beloved nieces and nephews who he affectionately loved as his own children.
He is preceded in death by his parents: Carl and Oredis Harrell, grandparents: Ben German and Ina Smith Harrell and James and Effie Hawkins Bates, three brothers: Roy Lee Harrell, Bennie Ray Harrell and Bobby Carl Harrell, nephew: Danny Ray Harrell and grandson: Jimmy Lee Withers, II.
Officiating Leon’s celebration of life: Dr. Bill Myers, Bro. Bobby Thompson, Bro. Bobby Reddin and Bishop R.T. Clincy.
Serving as Pallbearers: Eddie Derrick, Colin Measels, Jimmy Withers, Marcus Withers, Spencer Harrell, and Payton Harrell.
In honor of Leon’s love for “pretty” shirts, the pallbearers will wear a few of his favorite shirts from his closet.
Serving as Honorary Pallbearers (Leon's nephews, friends, and 1st cousin): Dennis Harrell, Glen Harrell, Stacy Harrell, Brian Harrell, Corey Harrell, Randy Hines, Peter Paul Boxx, and Floyd Parker.
In memory of Leon, the family asks that donations be made to: Groveton C.P. Church Cemetery at 222 Leon Harrell Road, Morton, MS 39117.
A meal will be served for the family and friends following the burial service. The fellowship hall will be open during the visitation for anyone that would like to provide a dish. Everyone is invited; bring a covered dish and join the family.
OTT & LEE Funeral Home of Morton is honored to serve the Leon F. Harrell family.