Lamar Wilson Gatewood, Jr., 82, a lifelong resident of Forest, Mississippi, passed away at his home Sunday, May 8 after an extended period of health challenges. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lamar Wilson Gatewood, Sr. and Marie Booth Gatewood, and his brother, Dr. James Verner Gatewood. He is survived by his devoted wife of 60 years, Barbara Vaughn Gatewood, two daughters, Alicia Joyner (Mike) of Tallahassee, FL and Gayla Steed (Shane) of Olive Branch, MS, his sister, Larie Allen (Barry) of Louisville, KY, seven grandchildren and five first cousins.
Lamar’s life found expression in and through the overlapping experiences of his families: his faith family, biological family, community family and business family. His daily life was characterized by duty, honor, achievement, confidence and courage all of which contributed in some way to the privileges and opportunities enjoyed by his various families today.
Blessed by God with a beautiful baritone voice, Lamar used that gift for the glory of God as a soloist and choir member of the Forest Baptist Church for more than 50 years, and with his daughters as they presented Christian musical programs throughout middle Mississippi. As a faithful churchman, he served in numerous leadership roles, including deacon, Sunday School Superintendent and adult choir President.
As a husband, his love for Barbara and her love for him were unlimited, unconditional, unselfish and unchangeable because it was grounded in Jesus Christ. He was supportive of Barbara in her career in art as she was of his career in the family business. As parents, they instilled in their daughters their values, and they followed the biblical admonition “to train a child in the way she should go and when she is old, she will not turn from it.” They taught us all by their example it is more important what we leave “in” our children and grandchildren than what we leave “to” them. Lamar also was an avid hunter and fisherman, and a master at outdoor grilling. He enjoyed many experiences with his extended Gatewood family at the family lake house as well as fishing trips with his friends to the Gulf of Mexico.
As a citizen of the community, Lamar invested over the years his time, talents, treasurer and testimony for his community family’s betterment. Among his leadership opportunities were Chamber of Commerce Director, Rotary Club President, Forest Country Club President, Charter President of Forest Community Arts, Easter Seals State Board, 2014 Citizen of the Year, Christmas Parade Grand Marshall, and Mid-Mississippi Development District Director. Alongside these responsibilities he served as University of Mississippi Scott County Alumni Association President and was selected as an Outstanding Young Man of America.
After excelling in Junior College basketball, Lamar graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1961, a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, with a Bachelor of Business Administration and returned to Forest to join his father in L W Gatewood Wholesale Grocery, a business his father established in 1940. At the time he served his country in the Mississippi Air National Guard. Throughout his career and until his retirement, Lamar treated his customers and his employees as family with a commitment to prompt, dependable and quality service, and loyalty. His business success was recognized by his peers with various awards and recognitions, including Mississippi Wholesale Grocers Association President and the annual convention chair.
Visitation will be held Thursday, May 12 from noon to 1:30 pm at Ott and Lee Funeral Home in Forest, MS with the memorial service to follow at 2 pm at Forest Baptist Church. Dr. Barry Allen will officiate.
Pallbearers will be Nelson Kaye, George Taylor, Scott Palmer, Mike Joyner, Shane Steed, and Matt Alford. Serving as honorary pallbearers will be Honorable Bill Waller, Jr., Judge Tom Lee, Thomas Colbert, Dr. Scott Gatewood, Verner Ray Gatewood, Tom Brown, Dr. John Paul Lee, Allen Breland, and Gordon Sansing.
The family requests memorial gifts to the American Cancer Society or Forest Baptist Church in lieu of flowers. Ott & Lee Funeral Home has been entrusted with the arrangements.