Lecil Lystra Lee

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Lecil Lystra Lee gave his heart and soul to each one without reservation. Coming from a long line of Christians, his love of God and willingness to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ came naturally and wholeheartedly.
Born to Otis and Clemmie Jones Lee in 1927, strong Christian parents and extended family as well as a close-knit community surrounded him. In fact, Caesar, and the surrounding area northeast of Picayune was settled by his Lee, Jones, and Pearson ancestors, all of whom helped establish Union Baptist Church in Pearl River County. This community and church nurtured him as a child and young man, instilling the importance of Godly living and sharing God’s love with others.
Growing up during the Depression also influenced the character and substance of Lecil, as he was not afraid of hard work and saw the value of conservative living. As a teen during WWII he worked at Keesler Air Force Base, commuting to Biloxi with his Dad and uncle Tom to help with the war effort. Too young to enlist early in the war, Lecil eventually managed to get into the Merchant Marines. The day before his reporting date he was playing in a pick-up basketball game and broke his arm, which postponed his induction. By the time the arm had healed the war was over and he did not get to serve.
Lecil describes getting his first and only job in 1948: “I went to Alexander Manufacturing Company in Picayune and talked to Alvin Lingenfelter, plant manager.” A large man (6’ 2”, 200 lb.) Lingenfelter was somewhat dubious, but told Lecil to go on in the shop and sweep it out. So, 5’ 3”, 110 lb. Lecil picked up a broom and started work. “I don’t reckon that he ever assigned me to a particular job…I was a flunky. I picked out jobs (in the shop) that I thought I could do, (mastered them), and they advanced me. I realized that Mr. Lingenfelter had the job I really wanted.” He achieved that goal and much, much more at AMCO during his 63-year career.
Enter the love of his life: Joria Janice Miller. Daughter of Ralph and Hester Smith Miller of Flat Top community, she, too, grew up surrounded by strong Christians, and shared the same values as Lecil. It was a match made in Heaven, and they were married on September 23,1949. They established their home in Picayune, both going to work each day and to church ‘just about every time the doors were open.’
By 1961 their family was complete—Kathy, Keith, Kerry, and Kendall. No children have ever had more loving, caring parents than these four. Love of God, respect for others, responsibility, and moral character were instilled in the family through their fine examples.
By this time Lecil and Joria were key members of their community and church family. Both were Sunday School teachers; Joria played the organ at times, sang in the choir and with quartets, and organized Vacation Bible Schools and Christmas pageants, while Lecil was Sunday School Superintendent at Union Baptist Church. Sundays were important family days too, as gathering after church at Otis and Clemmie’s home to enjoy a delicious fried chicken dinner, visiting with friends and family, and just being together, built wonderful memories.
Meanwhile, things were booming at AMCO. Management decided to relocate the plant closer to its customers in the Delta, and chose Yazoo City for their new home. Deciding that his future lay with AMCO, Lecil looked forward to being a part of this new phase of his company and career.
While the move was emotionally hard—after all leaving family and friends is never easy—the family quickly adapted to life in their new town. Of course, as soon as the boxes were unpacked the search for a new church home began.
Although very different from Union Baptist in size and congregation dynamics (Lee kinfolk dominated at Union Baptist.), First Baptist Church welcomed the Lees with open arms, and all members of the family were immediately involved in a variety of activities. Lecil and Joria both served the Lord at FBC in many capacities. Willing workers, they shared their faith as teachers, mentors and through mission work. Lecil worked in many areas throughout his life: Deacon, Usher, Baptist Men Director, Men’s Prayer Breakfast, and service through the Missions, Prison Impact, Bus, Security, and Stewardship Committees. A strong alto, Joria was a faithful and important member of the choir, Sunday School Teacher of all ages up to Adult. Tithing and extra giving were always a part of their strong commitment to carrying on God’s work.
Lecil and Joria were instrumental in starting and sustaining the summer youth mission trips beginning with the 1969 trip to West Virginia. Bus Driver Lecil and organizer Joria helped many find joy in ministering to others. Numerous youth mission, B.A.L.L. Club and Centrifuge trips followed, and at home, the Bus ministry expanded to include a van route Lecil and Burnell Hitt spearheaded to pick up those needing a ride to Sunday School and church.
Building and Mission trips to Belize, Mexico, Honduras, and other Central American countries were also a part of the couple’s effort to spread the Word of God. In 1994, Lecil spent 6 weeks in Japan with 11 others building a church. That experience was fondly remembered and the builders stayed in contact with each other, having get-togethers at least once a year.
A member of Gideon’s International, Lecil has delivered thousands of Bibles to schools and churches. And Joria participates in the Gideon’s monthly meetings and helped with organizing boxes and boxes of Bibles as they are sorted prior to distribution.
Ups and downs in the agricultural economy effected AMCO, but Lecil’s strong leadership, hard work, and innovation kept the company viable. Although he did not have an engineering degree, Lecil’s innate technical talents were critical in the development of new products for AMCO. Named plant manager in 1969, he saw the company through many crises both with personnel and corporate changes. Retiring in 2011, Lecil continued as a Consultant to AMCO for several more years.
A long-time member of Rotary International and a Paul Harris Fellow, Plus 1 Lecil served his club and, in turn, his community through many service projects and committees. He served on Economic Development and Tourism committees as well as serving many years on The Zoning Board and Christmas in July building projects for the needy.
An avid photographer, Lecil documented both the important and mundane events of life, using his camera skills to capture new AMCO products as they were developed, sights both beautiful and unusual, holidays, celebrations, and milestones. Joria’s creative side was displayed in floral arrangements, costume design and construction, ceramics, painting, dolls, pillows embroidery, quilting, and cake decorating.
Both enjoyed traveling—visiting friends and family, exploring the beauty of our country, cruising the oceans, and experiencing the culture and history of foreign countries. Of course, there are photos documenting every trip.
Grandchildren and great-grandchildren were a special delight, as they reveled in their accomplishment—attending numerous sports events, band concerts, dance recitals, plays, graduations and weddings. Holidays in Yazoo were filled with family, great food (especially Joria’s gumbo) jokes and family tales, and above all love. Lecil’s sense of humor is well-known and he could be counted on to regale a group with hilarious stories and sharp witticisms.
Anyone lucky enough to have met this remarkable couple has been blessed. Their lives well-lived in the service of God serves as a shining example for all.
“Well done thou good and faithful servant…”
The family has special thanks for Halcyon Hospice, Autumn Reeves, Gladys Neely, and Rhonda Lee.
Survivors are his wife; Joria Miller Lee, daughter; Kathy Lee (Dwight) Dyess of West Point, sons; Wallace Keith (Deborah) Lee of Madison, Kerry Don (Tammy) Lee of Madison, and Kendall Otis (Tondra) Lee of Yazoo City, sisters; Faye Lee of Picayune, and Jackie Lee Rowell of Brandon, grandsons Brian K. Lee of Madison, Daniel O. Lee of Lexington, Jeffery K. Lee of Canton, Walter Lee Dyess of West Point, and David K. Lee of Nashville, TN, granddaughters; Kelsey Lee of Yazoo City, and Laura Lee Hale of Clermont, FL, step grandchilfren; Reagan Ravenstein and Emerald Ravenstein great grandchildren; Ayden Cole White, Noah Alexander Salter, Madison Elizabeth Salter, Collin Michael Lee, Nicholas Conner Lee, Alice Elizabeth Hale, Eligah Lee Hale, Christian Jeriah Lee, and Kerry Otis Lee.
Lecil was preceded in death by his parents; Otis M. and Clemmie Jones Lee, brothers Coyt and Garland Lee, and a sister Mabeline Lee Bridges.
Services will be held Tuesday April 25, 2017 at First Baptist Church in Yazoo City with visitation beginning at 11:00 A.M. Followed by Funeral Services at 1:00 P.M., internment will follow in Glenwood Cemetery Under The direction of Stricklin-King Funeral Home. Rev. Clint Richie will officiate.
Pallbearers will be Brian Lee, Daniel Lee, Jeffery Lee, Walter Dyess, David Lee, Neal Miller, Robert Rowell and J. T. Rowell
In lieu of flowers the family request that memorials be made to; Gideons International, Yazoo Humphreys Camp, P.O. Box 1111, Yazoo City, MS 39194 or First Baptist Church P.O. Box 780, Yazoo City, MS 39194

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