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
December 30, 2017 9:58:52 PM
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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