John Furniss Bondurant
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Mr. John Furniss Bondurant, age 100, passed away on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson after a short illness. Visitation will be today from 9am-10:45am at the Forest United Methodist Church with burial at Eastern Cemetery. Rev. Paul McDonald will officiate the services. Arrangements are entrusted to the care of Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Forest.
John Furniss Bondurant was born in Selma, Alabama, on September 15, 1913. He was the second born child of "surprise" twins born to Sidney Morgan Bondurant and his wife Sadie Kendrick Bondurant. His father was not prepared for a name for two sons so when he was asked for a name he named him for the doctor who delivered him, Dr. John Furniss. His childhood was spent in Marion Junction, Alabama, and later he went to live with relatives in Marion, Alabama, after the death of his mother from influenza. After finishing high school in Marion, where he played on the state championship basketball team, and was President of the Senior class, he went on to Alabama Polytechnic Institute (known today as Auburn University) where he worked a night shift in a factory and went to class during the day. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in business there in 1935 and went to work initially for the Firestone Tire Company and then later for GMAC.
His territory for GMAC included several counties in Mississippi and required a significant amount of travel. While staying at the Southern Hotel in Forest, Mississippi, he met Miss Iva Dee Wiggins of Philadelphia, Mississippi. As World War II raged in Europe he felt that is was only a matter of time before America would become involved and he enlisted in the Vicksburg unit of the Mississippi National Guard as a private. The Guard was soon called up for a year of "active duty for training" and he knew he could not support a wife on the pay of a private. However, in a few months he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and with the increase in pay he proposed to Iva Dee Wiggins and they were soon married. The National Guard training was scheduled to end in late December of 1941 but the events of December 7, 1941, changed that.
After more military training he deployed to the South Pacific where he served on several islands as an infantry officer. He received the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Bronze Star "for meritorious service in combat against enemy forces." He was injured during the fighting on the Philippine island of Mindanao and was returned to the United States on a hospital ship just a few weeks before the Japanese surrender.
He was released from active duty in 1945 and went to work with the Lee Corporation of Forest, Mississippi, as the manager of the Chevrolet dealership in Morton, Mississippi, where he and his family lived. In 1956 he moved to Forest where he founded Automotive Wholesale Company. He was engaged in the wholesale auto parts business and was active in civic affairs and in the Forest United Methodist Church. He served the church for many years as the chairman of the Finance Committee and after his retirement from business he continued to work in the church office, organize trips for senior citizens, and stay involved in community affairs. His work in the community was recognized by the Forest Chamber of Commerce when he and Iva Dee were named "Citizens of the Year."
Because of declining health and a desire to be closer to family members he moved to Ridgeland, Mississippi, in 2013. It is reflective of his life that among his last words on his last day in this life he was thanking Jesus for his many blessings in life. He is survived and deeply missed by his wife of seventy-two years, Iva Dee Bondurant; two sons, Dr. Sidney Bondurant of Madison, Mississippi, and Si Morgan Bondurant of Jackson, Mississippi; grandchildren, Morgan F. Bondurant, John Thomas Bondurant, Alexander Lee Bondurant and Leigh Lorraine Nalty Bondurant; one great-granddaughter, Ava Catherine; one great-grandson, Sidney Morgan; one nephew and seven nieces. He is also survived and missed by his beloved sisters-in-law, Doris Mowrey of Forest and Mary Ann Rector of Morton. His twin brother died in infancy and two other brothers and one sister predeceased him.
Ott and Lee Funeral Home - Forest
295 East First Street
Forest, MS 39074
Published in Clarion Ledger on Dec. 23, 2013