Services for Mr. Charles Ray Hamil were held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021 at County Line Baptist Church where he was an active member for over 60 years. Burial was held at County Line Cemetery.
Visitation was held at 12-1 p.m. at the church prior to the service.
Charles Ray Hamil, beloved father and grandfather, left this world to join his Savior and reap his heavenly reward on Friday morning, Feb. 19, 2021 in Union, Miss. after a long and rich life of 99 years. As the second of 11 children born to Robert Brantly and Ruthleen Bailey Hamil, he was born on Sept. 24, 1921 at the Hamil homeplace in Sebastopol, Miss. Young Ray started school at Walnut Grove Elementary in the bustling 20’s of Walnut Grove, Miss. where his father was a builder and painter. He loved school, especially math and history, but the family was forced to move to a farm when he was in 4th grade with the fall of Wall Street and the onset of the Great Depression. He later would recall how bloody his feet became after a day of plowing fields barefoot. His strong work ethic and responsible spirit grew out of those tough days spent on the farm during the Great Depression. Though Mr. Hamil was a life-long learner and relished new information, he left school after he completed the 11th grade and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps to further support the growing family. He earned $30 a month and sent $25 home to his parents to help feed his siblings. Perhaps it was here that he became a conservationist and enthusiast for preserving the land he deeply loved.
In 1942, he joined the US Army and worked stateside to help build the formidable military that would eventually defeat Nazi Germany and liberate captive populations across the world. Later he would recall with a mixture of awe and melancholy the many conversations he had with German artisans and carpenters, which were prisoners of war. He was a man keen to learn, even from his enemies.
After the war, he returned to the Stratton community and took advantage of the newly created G.I. Bill and completed a program of study in skilled masonry technique from East Central Junior College in Decatur. He appreciated architecture and admired beautiful buildings throughout his life. He eventually built his own masonry contracting company and became a lifetime member of the Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. Meridian, Union and Philadelphia are scattered with homes and businesses of his making including Union High School, Union Shirt Factory (rebuilt), Cleveland Industries and County Line Church parsonage. He also took great pride in smaller, more artistic projects like the County Line Cemetery entrance gates and family mailboxes.
About the time he was starting his career in masonry work, he met his forever sweetheart, Jean Bankston, while Jean was serving tables in her parent’s café in downtown Union. He would frequently recall that Clay Bankston had the prettiest waitresses and best hamburgers around. They married in 1948.
In 1953, the young couple purchased 10 acres of land near her father’s farm in the present-day County Line Community. There he built a small dwelling which eventually grew to the home of his dreams. In that home, together with Jean, he raised four children, indulged nine grandchildren, entertained countless guests and took joy in crackling fires, quiet conversation, celebratory fireworks, freshly cut grass, homegrown vegetables and the pleasant excursions and meanderings of the simple life. It was there that he lived out his final days.
Psalm 62:2-3 says, “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
He has been preceded in death by Jean, his treasured wife of 70 years; his sister, Melie Dee; six brothers, Guy, Eugene, Bobby, Billy, James and Ralph; one grandchild, Melanie.
Many descendants and relations remain to grieve his departure and cherish the memory of his wise and kind spirit.
He is survived by three brothers, Dillard, Jack, and Kenneth (Nellie); four children, Larry (Kathy) Linda (Bob), Danny (Beverly) and Timmy (Jeanna); nine grandchildren, Allison, Rayvin, Mary-Hamil, Barrett, Nathan, Chad, Gabriel, Corey and Skyler; six great-grandchildren, Harrison, Grayson, Charlotte, Jaxon, Amelie, Thomas and Natalie. He is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to County Line Baptist Church or to the National Parks Foundation:
County Line Baptist Church
10661 MS Highway 492
Union, MS 39365
National Park Foundation
Attn: Gift Processing
P.O. Box 17394
Baltimore, MD 21298-9450 nationalparks.org