Joseph Lewis Fant, III (Major General, US Army-Retired), 91, passed away on August 14, 2019, at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Columbus. Following a private graveside service, a memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church on Saturday, August 17, at 11:00 AM. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service in Carolynís Room at the church. Memorial Gunter Peel Funeral Home, 2nd Ave. North location, is in charge of arrangements. Born and raised in Columbus, Joe Fant was the son of the late Julia Brazeale Fant and the late Joseph Lewis Fant, Jr. He graduated from S.D. Lee High School and completed a 2-year associates degree from Marion Military Institute in Marion, AL. He received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated in 1951. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he rose to the rank of Major General during his 38-year career as an artillery officer. He served in the Korean Conflict and Vietnam. A Master Parachutist, Joe held leadership positions in the 101st Airborne Division, 82nd Airborne Division, I Corps, Second United States Army, and U.S. Readiness Command among others. He also served on the staffs of the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army. He earned a masterís degree and a doctorate in English from The University of Pennsylvania. While teaching English at West Point, he was responsible for arranging the visit of Nobel Laureate William Faulkner to the Academy, an experience he detailed in the book, Faulkner at West Point, which he co-edited. His military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, 2 Legion of Merits, 2 Bronze Star Medals, 4 Meritorious Service Medals, and 2 Air Medals. After his retirement from the U.S. Army, MG Fant served as president of his alma mater, Marion Military Institute, from 1990-1994. At the completion of this assignment, Joe returned to his beloved hometown and remained active serving church and community. He served on the board of First Columbus National Bank, was board president of Greater Columbus Learning Center, and a past president of Town & Tower. He was honored by the Mississippi Economic Council and commended by the Mississippi Legislature as a distinguished Mississippian. He also served on the Mississippi Humanities Council and was a member of the Mississippi State Historical Society. He was active in the local chapter of Sons of the American Revolution, Pushmataha Council of BSA, Rotary Club, Exchange Club, and the Masons (32nd degree). A life-long member of First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Joe was a faithful member of the Lewis Fellowship Class, where he taught Sunday School. He was a certified lay speaker and served as chair of Staff/Parish Committee, Lay Leader, and was active in the Emmaus Community. Joe Fant is survived by his wife of 64 years, Carolyn Watkins Fant. He is also survived by their children: Carolyn F. Ludlam and husband, Steve, of Jackson, MS; Lynn F. Durant and husband, George, of Mandeville, LA; and Joseph L. Fant, IV of Cashiers, NC. Surviving grandchildren are Steven Ludlam and wife, Sara, of Nashville, TN; Julia Ludlam of Birmingham, AL; Ross Durant of Dallas, TX; Katherine Durant of New Orleans, LA; Hutton F. Harsh and husband, Carter, of Birmingham, AL; Emily Fant of Atlanta, GA; Adair Fant of Ponte Vedra, FL; and great-grandson, Hanley Ludlam of Nashville. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to First Columbus United Methodist Church: P.O. Box 32 Columbus, MS 39703 or The Salvation Army Columbus: P.O. Box 8, Columbus, MS 39703.
Appeared in The Commercial Dispatch on August 16, 2019
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