Sybil Canon, associate vice president of Development and Special Projects at Northwest Mississippi Community College is pleased to announce that The Dr. John and Jessie Flowers Endowed Scholarship has been recently established by friends and loved ones.
“This scholarship was established in appreciation of the lives and ministry of this beloved couple as they worked together as passionate servants of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Canon said.
Dr. Flowers was born Nov. 29, 1923 in Magnolia, Mississippi to Harmon S. Flowers and Annie Roe Flowers. He died at the age of 94 in April of this year. Dr. Flowers grew up near McComb and early in his life felt the calling into pastoral ministry. After graduating from Fernwood High School, he joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and served in the European Theater. While stationed in San Luis Obispo, CA in 1945, right before his discharge home to Mississippi, he met Jessie Babb. They got married in August 1948 and moved to Mississippi to build their ministry together. At the time of his death, they had been married just a few months short of 70 years.
Dr. Flowers began working to fulfill his lifelong ambition after military service by graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi College in Clinton and then receiving a Bachelor of Divinity, a Master of Religious Education and a Doctorate of Religious Education from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He was ordained at Navilla Baptist Church on July 7, 1947 and went on to serve as Pastor of Shady Grove Baptist Church in Lincoln County, Mississippi, as Associate Pastor of First Baptist Church, McComb, and then as Pastor of First Baptist Church (FBC) Senatobia for over 33 years where he retired in 1992 and was named Pastor Emeritus.
Jessie Babb Flowers was born December 9, 1928 in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. The effects of the Dust Bowl on that state forced her family to move west and relocate to California. She finished high school at San Luis Obispo and began her college career at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles.
According to the Flowers’ daughter, Becky Wallace, “My mom was 16 when she met a good looking 21-year-old Army man right before his discharge back home to Mississippi. They courted long distance for two and a half years before she married John Flowers in 1948 and moved to Mississippi.” She continued her education at Mississippi College in Clinton and then received her Bachelor of Religious Education degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
Dr. Flowers had a God-given talent for reaching out and caring for people of all ages. While pastoring at FBC, he was a favorite of the children because of the unique and simple way he interacted with them. Rev. Clay Moore, who served as Minister of Music with Dr. Flowers, remembers that “Dr. Flowers stated that as a child, he was afraid of the pastor and didn’t want children in his own congregation to be afraid of him. So, if a child would come speak to him, a stick of gum awaited. That led to pockets of gum handed out every week. Needless to say, children couldn’t wait to visit him.”
“Through the years, he became a regular at Wal-Mart when he decided that walking multiple laps around the interior of the building could help him stay in shape. He knew employees by name and greeted them as he walked, asking about family and keeping up to date with people. Those trips were usually followed daily by greeting every patient in the Nursing Home and those who worked there. He was indeed a lover of people,” Moore recalled.
Dr. Flowers was also an accomplished poet and writer and could recite from memory multiple verses of poetry and scripture and did so until the last week of his life. He also was a master gardener with gorgeous contributions to the community both in home and church settings, being awarded “Yard of the Month” on more than one occasion.
Although quiet and unassuming, he was involved in many facets of community and denominational life and leadership roles including membership in the Rotary Club, Civitan Club, Tate County Soil and Conservation Society, Tate County Ministerial Alliance, was honored as “Citizen of the Year” and served on the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and was a member of the Historical Society of Mississippi Baptists. He also taught Bible, Ethics and World Religion among other courses at Northwest.
As the wife of a pastor, Mrs. Flowers is the perfect complement to her husband’s ministry. Indeed, they were partners in every aspect of the ministry. Her servant spirit is evident in being a constant in their daughters’ lives and in the moves to different churches.
Mrs. Flowers has used her talents over the years to touch all ages. She taught the fourth grade Sunday School class for many years, sometimes teaching lessons with her elaborate flannel graph illustrations, and “wordless book.”
One of her great loves was creating countless wardrobes for her daughters. The wedding dress she designed and crafted for her oldest daughter won first place in Memphis at the Mid-South Fair. She was adept at several sewing techniques and lent her services to many in the area when asked.
She loves music, and she sang for years in the choir at FBC and could also play the flute and piano. Mrs. Flowers has been a member of the Cosmopolitan Club for over 50 years and has served as an officer for that organization.
She worked part-time in Senatobia at B/C Printing Co. and Tomlinson’s Fabric Store before fully retiring. Even then she reached out to those in the Convalescent Center when she would go assist the ladies with manicures and read to the residents on a regular basis during their activity sessions.Mrs. Flowers’ family has always been and continues to be most important to her as well as her service to others.
Dr. and Mrs. Flowers are the parents of daughters, Becky Wallace (Charles) of Brandon, Rachel Roberts (Steven) of Cordova, Tennessee; Ruth Patch of Rutland, Massachusetts and Philip Murrell Flowers, who died in infancy. They are the grandparents of John Wallace (Hannah), Elizabeth Wallace Moore (Chris), Daniel Roberts (Emily), Olivia Roberts; Tim Patch (Alexandra) and Amy Patch; and the great grandparents to Ivy Wallace, Zeritu “ZZ” Wallace, Emerson Moore and Evangeline Roberts.
Dr. Michael Heindl, president of Northwest Mississippi Community College, is honored that the Northwest Foundation has an endowment that honors this dear and distinguished couple. “While I am new to Northwest and to the community of Senatobia, I have learned about the enduring legacy of Dr. and Mrs. Flowers. It is obvious that Dr. and Mrs. Flowers are dearly beloved by the members of First Baptist Church and the entire community of Senatobia, all of whom surely benefitted from their kindness and compassion. We look forward to providing the Flowers scholarships to students for as long as this college exists,” Dr. Heindl said.
The first Flowers scholarship will be awarded next year for the 2019-20 academic year. Applications must be submitted by April 1, 2019. The scholarship is to be awarded to students who have demonstrated through their service and volunteer activities that they have a sincere desire to help people. Preference is given to students who are members of First Baptist Church, Senatobia.
Should there not be a qualified applicant from First Baptist Church, the recipient may be chosen from the other applicants. The candidate must be enrolled full-time at Northwest and thereafter must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average to be eligible for future semesters.
For additional information or to contribute to this endowment, please contact Canon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-560-1103.