Article Comment 

Those we lost in 2017


Top row, from left: James

Top row, from left: James "Jimmy" Fannon, Robert Snow, Jashun "Peddy" Johnson and Mariah Isaacs. Second row, from left: Kaelin Kersh, Gabriel "Super Gabe" Valentine, Thomas Lee Bales and Bob Gilbert. Bottom row, from left: John Robert Arnold, Taylor Harris, Jack Wallace and Antaves "Taves" Petty


Slim Smith



From an 8-year-old child whose optimism never dimmed in the face of a rare, often painful, disease to an 102-year-old World War II veteran and beloved professor, 2017 was a year where we said goodbye to heroes... 




James "Jimmy" Fannon, 82, Columbus 


Died Jan. 31 


Personable former mayor of the City of Columbus and a justice court judge known for his friendly nature. 




Robert Snow, 91, West Point 


Died Mar. 26 


Owner of Waverley Mansion, which he and his family restored from near ruin -- a labor of love, to which he devoted 55 years. Known as a colorful gracious host to thousands who toured the historic home over the past 50 years. 




Jashun "Peddy" Johnson, 18, West Point 


Died April 22 


Affable senior basketball player at West Point High School, whose death in a car accident shook the Green Wave family. 




Mariah Isaacs, 12, Starkville 


Died April 28 


Death of Armstrong Middle School sixth-grader rallied community against bullying, which was believed to have been a contributing factor in her death. 




Kaelin Kersh, 22, Mississippi State 


Died May 7 


Talented track athlete whose death in a May car accident took a heavy emotional toll on the MSU track program. 




Gabriel "Super Gabe" Valentine, 8, Starkville 


Died June 16 


Inspirational kid whose struggle with a rare and painful disease never dimmed his love of life - or of Mississippi State sports. 




Thomas Lee Bales, 16, Aberdeen/West Point 


Died Aug. 5 


His self-confessed "terrible" pre-game dances eased tension among his Oak Hill Academy football teammates, and his death in a swimming accident stunned his home town and school just days before 2017-18 school year started. 




Bob Gilbert, 102, Columbus 


Died Aug. 11 


Decorated World War II veteran who went on the become a much-loved professor at Mississippi University for Women. His wide array of interests made him a well-known figure throughout the Columbus community. 




John Robert Arnold, 94, Starkville 


Died Aug. 23 


Noted businessman, avid supporter of Boy Scouts and the First United Methodist Church, former Chamber of Commerce president and a famously "happy singer." 




Taylor Harris, 16, Columbus 


Died Aug. 27 


Sweet-tempered and much-loved member of the Columbus High School softball team. Both teammates and rival team members mourned her passing. 




Jack Wallace, 75, Starkville 


Died Oct. 31 


Key figure in Starkville business community. Chairman of Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, Chamber of Commerce member and one of the founders of the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. 




Antaves "Taves" Petty, 16, New Hope 


Died Nov. 4 


Death of popular, ever-smiling New Hope football player drew hundreds of fellow students to a moving candlelight vigil.


Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]



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