Dr. James Edward Booth passed away at the University Medical Center in Jackson, on June 17, 2011, at age 86 after a triumphant and distinguished life.
Dr. Booth was born in Choctaw County on April 25, 1925, the son of Sara Tabitha Chandler and Jim Charlie Booth. He was born as the sun was coming up in their old family home and his mother always said it was the prettiest sunrise she had ever seen.
He graduated from Eupora High School in 1943 and was drafted into the Army. He served in the European theater as an infantry rifleman and machine gunner of the Third Platoon, Co, A, 62nd Infantry Battalion, 14th Armored Division. He served under General Sandy Patch and General George S. Patton in the invasion of France and Germany during the Battle of the Bulge. He made two return trips to Europe in 1970 and 1995 retracing his battle routes and found his fox holes in the forests and other nostalgic points.
Dr. Booth attended Clark College for two years and graduated cum laude from Mississippi College at Clinton in 1950 with a bachelor of science degree. At both Clark College and Mississippi College, he was the pianist for the Baptist Student Union. Dr. Booth was majoring in English and music, planning to coach basketball and teach English. He was setting the grading curve in the premedical zoology class. He decided if he could set the curve, he could be a doctor too. After that, he never looked back. Medicine has afforded him the opportunity to serve mankind, save lives, and bring healing to thousands of individuals.
In 1952, he was accepted at what was then the two year medical school of the University of Mississippi on the Oxford campus before the medical school was built in Jackson. He was then accepted at the University of Alabama Medical School in Birmingham, Ala., and received the doctorate degree in 1954. He served a rotating internship at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Dr. Booth began general practice in July 1955 in Eupora, when he and Dr. B.H. Putman purchased Curry Clinic from Inez Curry upon the death of Dr. Hugh H. Curry. Dr. Putman left Eupora shortly afterward; Dr. Booth did general practice for seven years in Eupora and operated a 30 bed clinic hospital.
Dr. Booth, along with local and county officials and attorneys, was instrumental in passing petitions and getting approval for building and financing of the hospital in Eupora. He closed his clinic and hospital and transferred his patients by ambulance to the new hospital June 1, 1962.
In July of 1962, Dr. Booth was accepted for a four year general surgery residency at the University of Mississippi in Jackson where he was chief resident in 1965-1966 and studied under the world renowned surgeon, Dr. James D, Hardy. Dr. Booth scrubbed with Dr. Hardy on the world's first adrenal and auto immune kidney transplant from flank to groin. In preparation for the world's first human heart transplant, Dr. Booth provided testing with dogs in the lab.
Dr. Booth had the opportunity to work with and study under some of the leading doctors in the United States, including Dr. Arthur Guyton, author of "Textbook of Medical Physiology" used by medical students around the world; Dr. Arthur Derian, orthopedic surgeon; Dr. Curtis Artz, who was distinguished for treating burns in World War II.
After passing the qualifying oral and written examinations, making the third highest grade on the oral exams east of the Mississippi, he became a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery. He was a fellow in the American College of Surgeons. He held memberships in the Southeastern Surgical Congress, American Medical Association. Mississippi State Medical Association and North Central Medical Society.
Dr. Booth met the love of his life, Mattelyn Reed, when he came to Eupora to practice in 1955. He made house calls to see her grandparents and bought a house "up the street" from her parents. Mattelyn was a piano student and had recently given a graduate piano recital. Dr. Booth invited her up to his house to play his new piano-organ. Mattelyn was enrolled at Millsaps College and borrowed a medical book from Dr. Booth when she was writing a term paper in zoology. The rest is history.
Dr. Booth was very civic minded. He was a very active member of the Eupora Rotary Club, where he was a past president and recipient of the Rotarian of the Year award. He was a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was the past president of the Mississippi Chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge.
In 2006, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Webster County.
In 2005, he was the Biology Alumnus of the year for Mississippi College.
In 2003, he received the Woodmen of the World's Outstanding Citizenship Award.
He was a devout Christian, church member, choir member, and lifetime deacon.
One of his passions was genealogy. He contributed to the Webster County History Book, Choctaw County History Book, and the Jennings Family History Book. He had a vast knowledge of the history of most families in Choctaw and Webster counties. He always said there were never two families who were not connected some way.
Dr. Booth and Mattelyn made sure that their children met Jesus at an early age. They instilled in them the love of music and singing. The Booth Family sang and performed music programs all over the state.
He was not only a good man, but a great one — decent, kind, gentle mannered, possessing humility. He was soft spoken which defined his personality. He had an easy going demeanor with gentle bed-side manners, and treated all individuals with dignity and respect. He had an incredible wit and a quick laugh. He adhered to a high moral standard, uncompromising faith, and a sense of character, a gentleman and physician without parallel. The people of Eupora, Webster, and surrounding counties are much richer for having received his surgical skills and medical knowledge, and the poorer for his passing from us.
Survivors are his wife Mattelyn Reed Booth; his children, Gwendolyn Childs Booth Wilson (Randy), Anne Reed Booth Ross ( Henry ), Judith Lee Booth Buys (Mark), Tabitha Caroline Booth Browder (Thomas), and James Edward Booth, Jr. (Rachel); grandchildren, Arey Caroline Childs Wilson, Herman Henry Ross III, John Williams Ross, Catherine Elizabeth Ross, Mark Talbot Buys, Jr., Anne Elizabeth Buys, Benjamin Booth Buys, Reed Washburn Buys, James Edward Booth III and Emma Kathryn Booth; a sister, Ruth Booth Rowlen; brothers, Glenn Harold Booth, Thomas Marion Booth, Homer Lee Booth; and numerous cousins.
The family would like to thank Dr. Everette McKibben, Dr. Jack Huffman, the Neuroscience ICU unit at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Gilbert's Home Health Agency, Stacy Bradford, and Willie Reed manager of Pryor Funeral Home.