Betty Ruth Bennett
WAYCROSS — Betty Ruth Bennett, 86, passed away Wednesday, November 13, 2019, at the Baptist Village Retirement Communities following a brief illness. Mrs. Bennett was born in Ware County but resided in many places around the world during her husband’s military career. She returned to Waycross following his retirement. Mrs. Bennett was formerly employed with Gibson-Mc-Donald Furniture of Waycross and was a devoted member at Jamestown Baptist Church. She was a daughter of the late A.T. Edenfield and Ethridge Carter Edenfield. Mrs. Bennett was married to the late Joe Brown Bennett and was also preceded in death by three sisters, Mildred Edenfield, Gloria Leverett and Verna Deen Bennett; and a brother, Sonny Edenfield. She was also preceded by her loved pet, Lexi. Mrs. Bennett is survived by a son, Steven Brown Bennett (wife, Michelle) of Atlanta; two grandchildren, Sarah Bennett, of Knoxville, Tenn., and Yasmeen Bennett of Austin, Texas; a brother, Johnny Edenfield of Hilliard, Fla., and beloved pet, Bella, and grand-pets, Fletcher Christian, Charlie and Willis. A memorial service will be held at 12 p.m. Saturday, December 14, 2019, at Jamestown Baptist Church. Entombment will follow in Greenlawn Mausoleum for family and close friends. The family will receive friends on Saturday, December 14 at the church beginning at 11 a.m. Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online registry at Music Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.

Jason Ashley Bechiom
WAYCROSS — Jason Ashley Bechiom, 40, of Waycross, died Saturday, November 16, 2019, at his residence after a sudden illness. Bechiom was born in Pearson to Charles Richard Bechiom and Debra Jo-Ann Thomas Bechiom. He made Waycross his home for the majority of his life. Bechiom worked as a plumber and was of the Baptist faith. He enjoyed listening to music, being around animals and helping other people any chance that he got. Bechiom was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Watson and Louise Bechiom; his maternal grandparents, O.C. and Hazel Thomas; and his step-mother, Robin Lynn Bechiom. Bechiom is survived by his father, Charles “Rick” Bechiom of Waycross; his mother, Debra Bechiom of Waycross; two sisters, Sarah Joyce Sokal (husband, Stefan) of Hiram, Rachel Bechiom Allen (husband, Brian) of Kennesaw; four nephews, Preston Cline, Jacob Allen, Oliver Sokal and Callum Sokal; and numerous other relatives. A memorial service was held Friday, November 22 in the Miles-Odum Funeral Home Chapel. Sympathy may be expressed by signing online at

Wanda Robinson Lawrence
WAYCROSS — Wanda Robinson Lawrence, 78, died Friday morning, November 22, 2019, at Hospice House Satilla. A 1959 Waycross High graduate, Mrs. Lawrence was a native and lifelong resident of Waycross. She retired from Georgia Natural Gas after 20 years and was a member of Sweat Memorial Baptist Church. Mrs. Lawrence was preceded in death by her parents, Paul Robinson and Dorothy Davis Robinson; and her husband, Robert Lawrence. Survivors include four children, Brady Paul Roundtree (Stephanie) of Virginia Beach, Va., Shari Mock (John) of Savannah, Kandy Steedley (Henry) of Waycross, and Leitha Barfield (Michael), of Vidalia; four grandchildren, Heather Giroux, Brady Paul Roundtree II, Haley Barfield and Summer Adams; three great-grandchildren, Jayden, Lincoln and Brady III; one brother, Tim Robinson (Carol), of Athens; and numerous nieces and nephews. A funeral service was held Saturday, November 23 at the Music Funeral Home Chapel. Burial followed in Greenlawn Cemetery. Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online registry at

Wonice Virginia Pittman Crews
WAYCROSS — Wonice Virginia Crews, 78, of Waycross, died Friday evening, November 22, 2019 at Southeast Georgia Health Systems in Brunswick after a brief illness. Mrs. Crews was born in Waycross to the late Edgar Pittman and Louise Proctor Pittman. She was a homemaker and a member of Whitehall Freewill Baptist Church. Mrs. Crews loved being outdoors, especially going camping. More than anything, she loved her family and any time she was able to spend with them, especially her grandchildren. Mr. and Mrs. Crews always gave tremendous love and support to their children and grandchildren. Their greatest joy in life was watching them work hard and succeed in accomplishing all of the goals they strived for. Along with her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Eugene Crews; three brothers, Buddy Pittman, James Pittman, Don Pittman; and three sisters, Violet Richardson, Carolyn Pittman, and Mary Raulerson. Mrs. Crews is survived by her children, Suzanne Holton (Henry) of Townsend, Ga., Virginia Crews of Blackshear, Earl Crews (Laura) of Waycross, Teresa Crews of Blackshear, Tony Crews (Tammy) of Waycross; 12 grandchildren, James Henry Holton Jr., Adam Holton (Amber), Isaac Roberson, Daniel Roberson, Timothy Roberson, Tiffany Reeves, Matthew Crews (Ashley), Stephanie Crews, Josh Butler (Hayden), Brittany Crews, Amber Sweat, Cody Sweat; 17 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Dot Waldron (Odis) of Jesup, Ruthie Taylor (Clint) of Talbott, Tenn.; and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives. A funeral was held Monday, November 25 in the Miles-Odum Funeral Home Chapel. Burial followed in Kettle Creek Cemetery. Sympathy may be expressed by signing online at

Mary Ruth Corley Allen
WAYCROSS — Mary Ruth Corley Allen died Friday, November 22, 2019, at Baptist Village Retirement Communities following an extended illness. Mrs. Allen was born March 24, 1931, in Ware County to the late Samuel James “S.J.” Corley and Elizabeth “Lizzy” Martin Corley. Living in Waycross her entire life, Mrs. Allen worked at Spatola’s Shoe Factory, as a CNA at Baptist Village and in her later years, at the Waycross College Snack Bar where all the faculty and students knew and loved her. She was a family-oriented lady who loved her grandchildren, loved having the family gather in her home and loved to ride around seeing her community and visiting with family and friends. Mrs. Allen was a member of Hosanna Church in Waycross. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Kenny Palmer Allen; two grandchildren, Tangee Thrift and Eddie Fullard; one brother, Sam Corley; and two sisters, Laveda Bowen and Christine Bryant. Mrs. Allen is survived by her six children, Betty Ann Cox of Waycross, Avery Clinton Spell of Tallahassee, Fla., Elizabeth Elaine Coomer of Waycross, Wendell Allen (wife, Carol) of Waycross, Bill Allen (wife, Tina) of Waycross, and Lucky Allen of Waycross; 13 grandchildren, Shawn Musgrove, Robin Fullard (wife, Christy), Lisa Eunice and (husband, Greg), J.T. Spell (wife, Jennifer) of Orem, Utah, Grumpy Thrift (wife, Bethany) of Banger, Maine, Katie Coomer, Brittany Carter (husband, Liston), Samantha Sweat (husband, Buddy), Victoria McCarthy (husband, Kyle), Zac Allen, Anna Allen, Gus Allen and Kristen Aldridge; 33 great-grandchildren; and 10 great-great-grandchildren; her sister, LaRue Popham of Waycross; and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives. A funeral service was held Monday, November 25, 2019, in the Miles-Odum Funeral Home Chapel. Burial followed in Kettle Creek Cemetery. Sympathy may be expressed by signing online at

Ching Ping ‘Paul’ Tang
WAYCROSS — Ching Ping “Paul” Tang, 64, died Saturday night, November 23, 2019, at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, after an extended illness. Tang was born July 15, 1955, in Hong Kong to the late Fat Tak Tang and Mei Yuk Fung Tang. He graduated from the National Taiwan University and was the owner/operator of Wong’s Palace. Tang was surrounded by his family and friends at the time of his passing and was reminded of how much he is loved and of how many lives he has touched by his positive influence. Tang loved his community and considered the people of his community as his own family. He will be dearly missed by many. Survivors include his wife, Hedi Shuk Kun Tang of Waycross; three children, Angie Tang of Atlanta, Vincent Tang of New York City, N.Y., and Patrick Tang of Lawrenceville; daughter-in-law, Jinny Tang of Lawrenceville; grandchildren, Abby Tang and Parker Tang; two brothers, Ching Por Tang of Sylvester, and Ching Pong Tang of Hong Kong; one sister, Suet Fan Chu of New York City, N.Y.; and numerous nieces and nephews. A funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, November 29, 2019, at the Music Funeral Home Chapel in Waycross. Burial will follow in Satilla Memorial Gardens in Douglas. The family will receive friends from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., Thursday, November 28 at the funeral home. Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online registry at Music Funeral Homes is in charge of arrangements.

Hillery Vernon Fort Sr.
WAYCROSS — Hillery Vernon Fort Sr., 78, died suddenly Saturday evening, November 23, 2019, at his residence. Fort was a native and lifelong resident of Ware County. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara Ann Drawdy Fort; and his parents, George Hillery Fort and Verona Griffin Fort. Fort was a 1960 graduate of Waycross High School and served with the United States Army as a Military Policeman in Germany during the Vietnam War. He retired from CSX Railroad in 2001 as a Locomotive Engineer with 41 ½ years of service. Fort purchased the Waycross Monument Company in the mid-1980s and has remained the current owner and operator. He was a member and deacon at Crawford Street Baptist Church and was a former Sunday School teacher. Survivors include his wife Sandra Hodges Fort of Waycross; a step-daughter, Cindy Barber (husband, Allen) of Waycross; two sons, Hill Fort (wife, LeAnn) of Americus, and Clint Fort (wife, Patti) of Brunswick; five grandchildren, Cason Fort, Calyn Fort, Coleman Fort, Evan Fort and Jacob Fort; three sisters, Janice Henderson of Waycross, Charlene Eulick (husband, Mike) of Big Canoe, Ga., and Donna Fort Wilson of Waycross; a brother, Gary Fort (wife, Maryse), of Waycross; and numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives. Memorial donations may be made to Southeast Cancer Unit, P.O. Box 667, Blackshear, Georgia 31516. A funeral will be held today (Wednesday, November 27, 2019) at 2 p.m., in the Music Funeral Home Chapel with burial in Oakland Cemetery. The family will receive friends from 12:30 until 1:30 at the funeral home. Sympathy can be expressed by signing the online registry at

Richard ‘Dick’ Watson Sr.
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Richard “Dick” Bruce Watson Sr., 94, of Cleveland, Tenn., passed away Saturday, November 23, 2019. Watson was born on July 29, 1925, in his family home in Waycross. He grew up on a small family farm and enjoyed an adventurous childhood milking cows, riding mules, climbing pecan trees and swimming in Kettle Creek. As a teenager, Watson was the proud batboy for the Waycross Bears. Upon graduating from Wacona High School in 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy just days after his 17th birthday. Watson was a Signalman, 2nd Class and served on the USS Iowa before transferring to a small wooden minesweeper, the YMS-305. His ship was one of the first ships to arrive at Utah Beach on D-Day, successfully and heroically clearing the way for the allied assault forces. Watson remained on the YMS-305 for six months after the Normandy Invasion, with the dangerous task of clearing mines all along the coastline of France. He was subsequently transferred to Pearl Harbor where he attended submarine school and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy upon the signing of the Instrument of Surrender by Japan. After the war, Watson attended the University of Georgia. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education and married his college sweetheart, Patricia Ann Walker, on the same day — June 10, 1948. The Watsons taught school in Callahan, Fla., and Winter Haven, Fla., and later settled in Germantown, Tenn., where they raised their five children. He received his master’s degree in Education from Peabody College (now Vanderbilt University) in 1951. Watson went on to become president of Walker Machine Products, Inc. in Germantown, Tenn., which later relocated to Collierville, Tenn. He was a life member of the International Association of Lions Club, holding every office at the local level and was elected District 12- L Governor in 1982. Watson was a member of Germantown United Methodist Church where he held numerous leadership roles and taught Sunday school for more than 20 years. He served on the Board of Alderman in Germantown for six years and was President of the Germantown Library Association. Watson was a member of the Germantown Civic Club, Oak Grove Hunt Club and a supporter of the Germantown Charity Horse Show. He served as secretary of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and held many offices with the National Screw Machine Products Association, serving as president in 1983. The Watsons, affectionally known as “Boom Pa” and “Pitty Pat,” retired in Highlands, N.C., where they hosted “Camp Watson” each summer for their 11 grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. “Boom Pa” shared his love for the outdoors with his campers, enthusiastically participating in each of his planned activities. He led hikes, camped, rafted, tubed, fished and had more energy and stamina than any of his little campers. When he wasn’t entertaining his campers and other guests, Watson was an active member of Highlands United Methodist Church, the Hudson Library Committee Association and the Bascom Center for Visual Arts and the Nantahala Hiking Club. He hiked the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, Ga., to the northern Virginia border and led hikes locally every Saturday morning. Watson was an amateur architect, a traveler, gardener, nature lover and enjoyed many crafts including woodworking and stained glass art. He annually attended the Naval Minewarfare Association convention and enjoyed lifelong camaraderie with fellow minesweepers and the crew of the YMS-305. The Watsons later moved to Canton, N.C., where he was a member of Long’s Chapel United Methodist Church. Watson volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and delivered Meals on Wheels. Never slowing down, Watson won Gold and Silver Medals in race walking in the National Senior Games in Raleigh, N.C. Their final home would be in Cleveland, Tenn., where he was a member of Broad Street United Methodist Church and continued his lifelong involvement with the Lions Club. Watson lovingly cared for Pat until she passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease in 2014. They were happily married for 66 years. Watson was recently honored as one of the few D-Day veterans who were able to attend the 75th D-Day Anniversary in Normandy, France in June 2019. This trip marked his first return to Normandy since WWII and gave him his first opportunity to stand on Utah Beach. Watson was preceded in death by his wife, Patricia; his parents, Jesse Hall Watson Sr. and Berta Lucretia Watson (Tomlinson); and his four older brothers, J.H. Watson Jr., J. Tom Watson, C.A. “Gus” Watson, and Ernest Watson. He is survived by his five children, Annelle Watson Hines, Richard “Dickie” Bruce Watson Jr., Walker Hall Watson (Liz), Lucretia “Lou” Watson Horner (Sam), and Clayton “Clay” Wright Watson; his two younger sisters, Sarah Watson Rigdon and Mary Watson Goodrich; 11 grandchildren and 14 greatgrandchildren (with one on the way); and numerous nieces and nephews. The incredible life of Dick Watson will be celebrated at his childhood church, Hebardville United Methodist Church in Waycross today (Wednesday, November 27) at 1 p.m., and will be officiated by his grandson, Jesse Hall Watson III. Watson will be laid to rest next to his wife in the Watson Family plot at Lott Cemetery in Waycross with Military Honors concluding the service. The family will receive friends from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honor to the Cleveland Lions Club, P.O. Box 1521, Cleveland, Tennessee 37364. Messages of condolence and the Watson family guestbook are available at Miles-Odum Funeral Home and Crematory in Waycross are thanked for their assistance in the service. Ralph Buckner Funeral Home and Crematory of Cleveland, Tennessee, is in charge of the arrangements.

Jean Esther Highsmith Ward
NAHUNTA — Jean Esther Highsmith Ward, 78, of Nahunta, passed away early Sunday morning, November 24, 2019, at Bayview Nursing Home after an extended illness. Born in Nahunta, her parents were Collis Edwin Highsmith and Wilsonee Herrin Highsmith. Mrs. Ward was also preceded in death by her husband, Jackson Clark Ward; a son, Jeffery Edwin Peeples; a daughter-in-law, Alisa Peeples; three sisters, Marlene Cleland, Mary Edith Griffin, and Judith “Judy” Wainright; and a brother, Collis “Eddie” Highsmith Jr. Mrs. Ward was an LPN for 32 years for Westberry Nursing Home in Jackson, Ga., and a member of Mount Paran Church of God in Decatur. She enjoyed gardening, reading, working with flowers and making flower arrangements. Survivors include her two sons and a daughter-in-law, Michael Alan Peeples (Tammy) and Stephan Brian Peeples, all of Nahunta; five grandchildren, Alana Michelle Peeples, Leah Celeste Peeples, Collin Peeples, Casandra Nicole Peeples and Hannah Jean Peeples; a great-granddaughter Emily Christina Peeples; and also several nieces, nephews and other relatives. A funeral was held Tuesday afternoon, November 26, 2019, at the chapel of Frye Funeral Home with the Rev. Larry Altman officiating. Burial followed in New Hope Cemetery. Pallbearers were Collin Peeples, Jamie Cleland, Hubert Wilson, Abe Flowers, Barry Chesser, and Jason Priester. Arrangements were with Frye Funeral Home, Nahunta. Sympathy may be expressed by signing the online registry at

Ricky L. Kennedy
WAYCROSS — A celebration of life service for Ricky LaVan Kennedy, 70, will be held Saturday, November 30, 2019, at 11 a.m., at new Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church 901 Ossie Davis Parkway, with the church pastor, the Rev. Jackie L. Hooper Sr., offering words of comfort. Kennedy was born August 2, 1949, in Waycross to the late Jim P. Kennedy and Lois W e s l e y Brickle. He received his formal education from the Waycross Public School System and graduated from Center High School in 1967. Kennedy served in the United States Army from November 1969 until he was honorably discharged in November 1971. After his service, Kennedy was employed with the United States Postal Service and later worked in the construction industry before he retired. On Saturday morning, November 16, 2019, Rickey LaVan Kennedy departed this life after a brief illness in Orlando, Florida. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a son, Tiwan L. Rogers, a brother, Kenneth R. Epps Sr., maternal grandparents, Gladys Collins and Horace Wesley, and his paternal grandmother, Viola Kennedy. Those left to cherish his memory include his devoted wife, Edith Kennedy of Orlando, Fla.; two sons, Derrick LaVan Chatman (Latisha) of LaGrange, and Richard LaVan Taylor Sr. (Patricia) of Waycross; a daughter, Kelly Anita Taylor of Waycross; a stepson, Eric Cowart of Orlando, Fla.; sisters, Rosalind Johnson of Cartersville, Glenda Kennedy Faison (George), Karen Kennedy Bawlson (Kelvin), Tommye Pamela Simmons (Dwight), all of Waycross, and Dawn Millicent Taylor (Keith) of College Park; uncles, Calvin Kennedy (Charlene) of Savannah, and Eugene Wesley (Ophelia) of Atlanta; brothers-in-law, Arthur Cowart, Randy Cowart, Rufus Cowart, David Cowart, Dean Cowart and Johnny Lee Cowart, all of Orlando, Fla.; grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends including lifelong friends, Jesse White and Robert Nelson of Waycross. Friends will be received Friday, November 29 at the Kennedy family residence, 905 Tommie Kennedy Circle. Public visitation will be Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., at Fluker Funeral Home, 985 Ossie Davis Parkway. The body will lie in repose Saturday at the church from 9 a.m. to the hour of service. Interment will be in Oakland Cemetery with military honors. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Fluker Funeral Home.

Dorothy Patricia Burse
WAYCROSS — A celebration of life service for Dorothy Patricia Price Burse, 70, will be held Saturday, November 30, 2019, at 2 p.m., at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 411 Wilkerson Street, with the church pastor, the Rev. Eric Horne, bring words of comfort. Pat, as she was affectionately known, was born June 26, 1949, in Waycross to the late Warren Allen Price Sr. and Bertha Mae Thomas Price. She received her formal education from the Waycross Public School System and graduated from Center High School in 1967. She later attended Albany State College and received her nursing degree as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) from Ware Technical College. Ms. Burse accepted Christ as her personal Savior and was baptized at the age of seven at King Solomon Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Ark., while her father was stationed in the military. She was a longtime member of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church having joined there at the age of nine. In recent years, Ms. Burse became a faithful member of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church where she was a member of the senior choir. She started her nursing career at Memorial Hospital in Waycross serving her community for over 30 years as a nurse. Ms. Burse finished her career and retired from the Baptist Village Retirement Community. She loved life, her family members and friends. Ms. Burse perpetuated this sprit through being a nurse, a “Guardian Angel.” She was a member of the Ware County Black Nurses Association God called her from her earthly home to her heavenly home on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. In addition to her parents, Ms. Burse was preceded in death by a daughter, Yetta Naleen Roberson Bennett; a brother, Warren Allen Price Jr.; her maternal grandparents, the Reverend Milledge Thomas and Jenny Thomas; and her paternal grandparent Cleve and Mattie Price. Those left to cherish her memorial include a loving daughter, Africa Sarun Roberson of Decatur; grandchildren, Jada R. Bennett and Jalen S. Bennett, both of Waycross; great-grandchild, Rudy Eason Jr., of Waycross; a sister, Shekerah “Juanita” Price, J.D. of San Diego, Cal.; special nieces, Tracy Roberson, Dr. Taifa Price of Long Island, N.Y., and Ziana Makeba Price, of San Diego, Cal.; a special nephew, Khalif W. Price, of San Diego, Cal.; very special aunts and uncles, cousins other relatives and friends. Friends are being received at the Burse home, 802 Jones Street, beginning, Friday, November 29, 2019. Public visitation will be Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Fluker Funeral Home, 985 Ossie Davis Parkway. The body will lie in repose Saturday at the church from noon to the hour of service. Interment will be in the Hazzard Hill cemetery. Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Fluker Funeral Home.