Remembering John Napier III
Published 7:00 am Friday, January 6, 2017
John Hawkins Napier III, also known as “General Napier,” passed away on Dec. 27, in Montgomery, Alabama. He was 91.
While Napier was not a long time resident of Pearl River County, local historian Don Wicks said his family was instrumental in the formation of Picayune.
His grandfather E.F. Tate was the mayor of Picayune and founded the Picayune Item. For about six months Napier also wrote for the Picayune Item as the first sports editor, Wicks said.
His love for Picayune did not wane after moving away to serve in the Marines, writing the concise history of the county in the book “Lower Pearl River’s Piney Woods, Its Land and Its People.” Napier also contributed several historical articles to the Picayune Item between 1949 and 1969.
Wicks said that Napier’s mother was a member of the group that planted the oak trees along Goodyear Boulevard. Napier’s wife, Cameron, said he lived a full life and she enjoyed their 52 years together.
“He contributed to the good of mankind, so I have a lot to be thankful for,” Cameron Napier said.
She said that her husband’s family lived in the Picayune area for generations, and E.F. Tate was known as the “Father” of the city, founding a bank, and insurance company, in addition to the local newspaper. As such, Napier continued to consider the area as home throughout his life and was deeply interested in the history of the city and surrounding county.
“He’s always been involved and interested in Picayune, though he’s lived away for so many years,” Cameron Napier said.
Born on Feb. 6 1925, Napier served in three wars and two occupations, including WWII and as an officer during Vietnam. He was also the special assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force at the Pentagon.
He graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelors in history in 1949 and established two scholarships at two universities in his life. One of those scholarships is at the University of Mississippi, while the other is at Napier University, Edinburg, Scottland, which designated him with the honor of Doctor of the University.
“We may not have had children, but we will educate other people’s children,” Cameron Napier said.
A memorial service will be held at St. Johns Episcopal Church in Montgomery, Ala., at 2 p.m. on Sunday before his interment at Scott’s Free Burial Ground at the Old Oakwood Cemetery, according to his obit, published in the Montgomery Advertiser.