JCJC Sports Hall of Famer Joe Flowers dies on Thursday

Written By: Shawn Wansley
Email Address: shawn.wansley@jcjc.edu
Date Submitted: 2011-07-01 09:28:56

 By Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – An inaugural member of both the Jones County Junior College and MACJC Sports Halls of Fame has died.

Joe Thomas Flowers Sr., 74, of Ellisville died on Thursday, June 30, 2011 at South Central Regional Medical Center in Laurel.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Ellisville Funeral Home with Dr. Greg Gavin officiating. Burial will be in Pine Grove Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5-8 p.m. on Friday at Ellisville Funeral Home.

Flowers was a standout football player at JCJC in 1955-56. He was inducted into the first class of the MACJC Sports Hall of Fame in April of 2007 and was enshrined into the first class of the JCJC Sports Hall of Fame – along with A.B. Howard and the late Sim Cooley – in September of that year.

Flowers was a star player at Jones County Agricultural High School and was recruited to JCJC by head coach Jim Clark.

“He brought me over and told me they were expecting a lot out of me,” Flowers said in an interview in 2007. “Man, he was tough. We had no water breaks back then and a lot of the boys were sucking on sweaty towels for water. They would give you salt tablets, but that just made you thirstier.

“But I survived. I was a country boy and I knew I could do it. I felt sorry for some of the other boys.”

Flowers was a freshman on the 1955 state championship team, which traveled to Pasadena, Calif., and faced Compton Junior College (Calif.) in the Junior Rose Bowl. In front of a crowd of 57,132, the Bobcats lost 22-13, but the game made history because it was the first time ever where a Mississippi sports team competed against a team with black athletes.

In 1956, Flowers starred as a linebacker, cornerback and fullback. He averaged over five yards per carry and was named All-State and All-American.

The Bobcats ended the year with a 7-3 record and Flowers competed in the first Junior College All-American Grid Classic, which was sponsored by The Jackson Daily News-Clarion Ledger and the Wigwam Wisemen of America. The game was played on Dec. 14 in Jackson and featured several junior college All-Stars from across the country.

Flowers headed to Memphis State University after leaving JCJC, but a severe ankle injury cut his senior college career short.

After graduating from Memphis State, Flowers returned home and taught school for a while before going to work for Sanderson Farms for 36 years.

He was a member of Pine Grove Baptist Church in Ellisville, where he served as a Sunday school teacher and song director.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Willie O. and Marie Mapp Flowers; two brothers, Miller and Jerry Flowers; and three sisters, Madonna, Joyce and June Flowers.

Survivors include his wife, Alyne Flowers of Ellisville; daughter Karen Flowers Purvis (Rocky) of Ellisville; sons Tommy Flowers (Tammie) and Jason Flowers (Kendra); brothers Billy Flowers (Peggy) of Ellisville and Conrad Flowers (Louise) of Ellisville; sisters Jane Aultman (Mack) of Ellisville and Judy Rawson (Ronnie) of Pass Christian; 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Honorary pallbearers will be the deacons of Pine Grove Baptist Church.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the JCJC Foundation, 900 South Court St., Ellisville, MS 39437.

Ellisville Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Family and friends may sign an online guestbook at www.ellisvillefuneralhome.com.


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