James (Jim) Edward Lewis, age 86, of Gulfport, MS, passed away in the evening hours on Saturday, April 9th at his home in Gulfport, Ms. Jim was born in Philadelphia, MS on 15 July 1935 and is survived by his second wife of 12 years Wille Nell Bethea and her sons Michael and Melvin Bethea.
Jim was predeceased by his wife of 52 years Cherry Coats, Leland, Ms.; his Father and Mother, Lonnie and Alma Leona; and his sister Louise Lovelady. He is survived by their children Michael, Errol, Zora, Lucretia, and Boris; six grandchildren Desiree, Emmanuel, Taliyah, Jade, Malachi, and Cherry; and one great-grandchild Tobias. Jim is also survived by his brother Jake and two sisters Ann Rogne and Ruby Woods.
Jim left high school in 1955 in order to join the United States Air Force and served 22 1/2 years retiring in 1978 at the rank of Master Sergeant. While in the Air Force, he and his family lived at Bergstrom AFB, Texas; Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; Naha AFB, Okinawa, Japan; Wheelus Air Base, Libya; RAF Mildenhall, England; a remote tour in Korat AFB, Thailand, and his last duty station was Eglin AFB, Florida. Jim spent the majority of his career focusing on corrosion control on military aircraft and his last position prior to his retirement was First Sgt of the Transportation Squadron. After his retirement, he obtained his GED and Associates Degree. He also took some college course towards his bachelor's. He decided to work for Northrop Grumman and later McDonnell Douglas in Saudi Arabia using his corrosion control expertise on Saudi Aircraft. He lived in Dharan and Jeddah working for Northrop alone from 1982-84 and switched over to McDonnell Douglas and moved to Khamis Mushayt with Cherry and Boris in 1984. Bo remained there for two years (1984 - 86). In 1996, Jim and Cherry returned stateside to Niceville Florida. Jim remained there, after Cherry’s passing, and eventually moved to Shalimar with his second wife Nell until they moved to Gulfport, Mississippi.
Jim was an avid bowler, participating in local bowling leagues and traveling across the U.S. to participate in bowling tournaments. He was a die-hard fan of all NBA and College Basketball as well as NFL and College Football. He can be most remembered for his smile, sense of humor, love of music, and a never wavering sweet tooth.
The family welcomes all to a time of visitation at Beulah First Baptist Church, 109 N.E. McGriff St, Fort Walton Beach, Florida on 22 April 2022, starting at 10 am for the viewing. The service will follow immediately thereafter, at 11 am, with Pastor Thigpen officiating. Jim will be laid to rest the same day with military honors at Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida at 2:30 pm.
Flowers may be sent to Beulah First Baptist Church. For those who prefer to donate to a charity in lieu of flowers, we recommend the American Heart Association via their website - heart.org. Friends are welcome to join the family for a repast and fellowship at Emerald Coast Funeral Home, 161 Racetrack Road NW, Fort Walton Beach, Florida after the services at Barrancas.
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