Memorial services for James Robert "Bill" McPeters, Jr. will be held on Wednesday, March 6, at 4:00 p.m. at McPeters Funeral Directors. Following the service, a gathering will be held in his honor at Refreshments, Incorporated, 101 West Linden Street, Corinth, Mississippi. Mr. McPeters passed away on Saturday, March 2. Having touched the lives of so many, both here in Corinth and elsewhere, he garnered a reputation as both a caring and entertaining philanthropist whose generosity was unmatched. There are few who have not evidenced his heart-felt concern, whether in the form of a small gift, a meal, a donated funeral service, or just a smile; however, much of this kindness was shared anonymously.
Serving the community in a unique fashion, Bill became an iconic personality in Corinth. Many citizens have relaxed on one of his wrought iron benches, which continue to decorate the downtown streets, or in the past have leaned against one of his multi-colored light posts, a project he initiated as an original member of the Make Corinth Beautiful Commission. Some Corinthians even experienced the pleasure of a ride in John F. Kennedy's personal limousine, thanks to the far-sighted McPeters who purchased the Cadillac for a reported $8000. President Lyndon Johnson rode in this same limousine in JFK's funeral procession. With a flair for the unusual, Bill had a style all his own. From the neckties he always donned around his waist to his feathered hats, Bill was a colorful, unpredictable friend even in his nineties.
Born February 18, 1923, McPeters completed high school in 1940 at Columbia Military Academy in Tennessee. After attending Cumberland University law School, he changed career goals and attended both Marion Military School in Alabama and the University of Mississippi, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Beginning his life-long profession as a funeral director in 1946, he purchased his cousin Liddon McPeters' share of the family business in 1954 which had been established by his great-great uncle, W. L. McPeters, and Dave Hyneman in 1905. McPeters Funeral Home, the first in the state to have a burial association, continued under McPeters' uniquely distinctive personality and guidance. The mortuary, first located on Waldron Street, moved to its present location on East Third Street in 1978, where it continues to maintain its standard of excellence.
In 1992, the business was sold; however, after retiring for a few years in Florida, McPeters and his wife, Judy, who joined McPeters Funeral Directors in 1979, returned to Corinth to manage the business, which continues to carry the family name. By his side in the business, Judy has described her husband as a caring, generous man who always was "the same with everybody," stating he always did little things for people, "usually hiding his kindness" even from her. His generosity, many say, stemmed from the fact that he always embraced other's sadness as well as their needs. Daughter Kayo also states that these acts of kindness define her father.
Mr. McPeters was a member of First United Methodist Church and attended Covenant Presbyterian Church. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of McPeters Funeral Home on February 2, 2005, he was recognized by the Mississippi Legislature for "Outstanding Service by a Funeral Director," honoring his professionalism and high standard for excellence. Described as a "colorful and unique undertaker," the declaration praised him as "the cornerstone of compassion and service and the bedrock of generational success in Corinth and surrounding areas." In addition to his profession, he served as a member of the Ambulance Service and the Magnolia Hospital Board. In addition, due to his love for animals, he was co-founder of the Alcorn County Humane Society and helped establish the Corinth Horse Show.
Mr. McPeters is survived by his wife Judy; his daughter, Kayo McPeters; son, Mark Matthews and wife Carley; daughter Marcy Matthews Hinton and husband Tom; grandchildren, Caitlin McPeters Voyles, Thomas Hinton, and Will Matthews. He is preceded in death by his mother, Lone McPeters; father, James R. McPeters, Sr.; and sister, Sara Nette Donachy.
Officiating the service will be Reverend Dennis Smith, Dr. Don Elliott, Dr. Prentiss Gordan and Reverend Ralph Culp. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Corinth Animal Shelter or the charity of one's choice.