A state bicentennial celebration scheduled for this past Saturday at Holmesville may have seemed in doubt when snow flurries struck McComb on Friday. After all, an unexpected heavy snow canceled the original event on Dec. 9.
But the flurries were brief, the snow didn’t stick, and Saturday dawned brisk and sunny — cold, but not too cold to keep away a big crowd from the newly renovated old Holmesville courthouse at 2 p.m.
Members of the Stockdale Rangers, Sons of Confederate Veterans, started things off with a bugler, a 21-gun salute and three cannon blasts, which rocked the normally quiet community by the Bogue Chitto River east of McComb.
After a flag-raising ceremony, people crammed inside the red brick building to see historical displays, hear speeches about county history and enjoy cake and punch (this was a birthday party, after all).
The guest speaker was Pike County’s first elected sheriff Laban Bacot — well, actually his direct descendant Keith Starrett, who spoke in Bacot’s persona.
Starrett, now a U.S. District judge, explained that the historical pronunciation of Bacot is “bah-KO,” not the “BAY-cot” commonly used in Pike County now.
Bacot was born in 1776 in South Carolina, the son of Samuel Bacot, a Revolutionary War soldier who was captured by the British. Samuel led a jailbreak by dashing a drink in a guard’s face and overpowering him. However, he and his fellow conspirators didn’t harm the Brits and later released them, Starrett said.
The scene was portrayed, with some embellishments, in the movie “The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson.
Flowers didn’t talk much about the war until recent years, Leggett said.
“Sometimes in that Guadalcanal story he would stop in mid-sentence and just stare,” said Leggett, who recorded a lengthy interview of Flowers’ war memories.
“One time I said, ‘Uncle Bud, were you afraid? He said, ‘Yeah, I was afraid.’ I said, ‘Were you afraid of getting shot?’ He said, ‘No, I signed up to die for my country. I wasn’t afraid of dying, I was afraid of letting my buddies down.’ ”
George Goza’s parents were also close friends with Bud and Betty Jo Flowers.
“Bud was one of the most caring, thoughtful people that I’ve ever known,” Goza said. “He assisted so many people, so many friends, that were undergoing cancer treatments or had to go to doctor appointments in Baton Rouge or New Orleans.
“Bud transported untold numbers of people for that purpose, including all my family. I lost four members of my family over the years and Bud was always there. I remember Bud closing the door on the ambulance for my dad on his final trip to the hospital.
“By the same token he was a tough guy, he was a Marine,” Goza said. “His service in the Marines meant so much to him. In his final days you’d never see him without his Marine hat on.”
Goza recalled a Christmas event at Camellia Estates when “Santa came over to him and thanked him for his service.”
“He was just a wonderful, wonderful man and so loved in the community, dedicated to the city of Magnolia,” Goza said. “A true Marine and a true Christian man, just the most devout, strong Christian beliefs a man could possibly have.”
Pike County Veterans Services Officer Jim Coleman said Mr. Flowers was faithful in attending veterans ceremonies.
“He always showed up til he got to where he physically could not,” Coleman said.
“He was an outstanding veteran.”
Mr. Flowers was born Nov. 5, 1923, in Magnolia, to Abner and Lois Flowers.
With the exception of serving in the Marine Corps during WWII, he spent his entire life in Magnolia.
Bud married his childhood sweetheart Betty Jo Carman in June 1945 and together they gave a lifetime of service to Magnolia. Bud was a lifelong member of First Baptist Church where he served as deacon and Sunday school teacher.
He served the City of Magnolia as alderman and volunteer fireman.
He was awarded the Magnolia South Pike Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in 1988, W. J. Simmons Most Outstanding Citizen in 2000, Rotary Service Above Self Award in 2012 and Enterprise-Journal Life Achievement Award in 2013.
In the summer of 1942, Bud enlisted in the United States Marine Corps 2nd Marine Division and fought in the Pacific Theatre.
He was known as Uncle Bud to many. The citizens of Magnolia were his family and he was often their hero. His final act of giving was leaving his body to the University of Mississippi Medical Center, believing that even after death he could still make a difference.
Bud is survived by his children, Nancy Flowers, Tom Flowers and Anna Flowers; six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; a brother, Ray Paul Flowers; a sister, Carolyn Pardue; and lifelong friends Chip Leggett, Sissy Leggett, George Goza and Dr. Harry Frye.