James Latham Sr.
NASHVILLE — James William Latham Sr. was known to his friends as Bill. He was born on the kitchen table in his grandmother’s home in Greenville on Dec.18, 1932, where he lived — not on the kitchen table, of course — until graduating from E.E. Bass High School, after which he served his country proudly during the Korean War as a chaplain’s assistant in the 31st Infantry Division. Sheer military brilliance of that day is demonstrated by the fact that he was assigned responsibilities as “backup field organist” because he had played a clarinet in high school.
After his military service, Bill graduated from Mississippi College and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He then invested the remainder of his professional life in the context of denominational service — first as a church staff member, then 10 years as a consultant for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board and after that, 20 years as an editor for The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, presently known as LifeWay Christian Resources.
Bill’s ministry did not end with his retirement in 1995 because he always considered that his real calling was to be a minister of comfort and encouragement to others.
Bill is survived by his wife, Judy; two sons, Jim (Lillian) and John (Lynn); a daughter, Erin Israel (Chandler); six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
Bill died at home Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, at the age of 86. Services celebrating God’s mercy, love, and grace in his life will be conducted by Dr. Frank Lewis at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at Nashville First Baptist Church. The service will also be simulcast on the church website at nashvillefirst.org/sundaysermons.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Bill’s two favorite organizations: Big Fluffy Dog Rescue and Be Like Henry, both of which can be found on Facebook.