God has called another member of the Greatest Generation home to heaven. David Gillentine, Jr. passed away on July 29, 2014, at Sanctuary Hospice House at age 88. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 1, at Tupelo's First United Methodist Church. Visitation will be Thursday, July 31, from 3 to 8 pm at the church; a second visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to service time on Friday.
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Born February 25, 1926, to David and Daisy Payne Gillentine in Itawamba County, David Jr. was the fourth of five siblings. He attended school first at Palmetto, then Black Zion, Shannon, and graduated from Mooreville High School. Enlisting in the army after graduation, David attended both clerk and sniper schools in South Carolina. He also attended Itawamba Community College and Fort Smith Auction College. As he often said, the rest of his life was the school of hard knocks.
During World War II, David fought in Europe under General Patton and helped free prisoners at Dachau concentration camp. Upon returning from war, he married his sweetheart Shirley Frances Reed of the Auburn community.
In the 1950s, David started a chain of Gillentine Supermarkets in Tupelo, Mooreville, Okolona and Nettleton. In the 1960s, he began Gillentine Auction and Realty Company. Always industrious, he helped develop the Auctioneers Association of Mississippi and served as its first president. For more than 40 years, he conducted sales all over North Mississippi and held his last auction only a few months ago. A born entrepreneur, he helped start several businesses and assisted others in beginning ventures to improve their lives and the community.
In the 1970s, David was actively involved in the political scene in Mississippi. He served on the Research and Development Council and the Health System Agency Board for the state. He helped secure the first CT Scanner for the North Mississippi Medical Center. He was also appointed by the governor to both the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway Development and the Appalachian Regional Commissions.
He was proudly a 32nd Degree Mason and a member of the Scottish Rite and the York Rite. He also was a Shriner, helping many years to raise money for children's causes.
He and his wife Shirley have also been actively involved in the First United Methodist Church, where David served in several capacities including as an usher, on the administrative board and as a lay minister. His life was spent loving God, his family and his neighbors.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his siblings Florine Gillentine Anthony and Ottis, Aaron and Billy Joe Gillentine; A son-in-law, David Wigginton; and granddaughter, Deanna Grace Collins.
He is survived by Shirley, his wife of 68 years. He is also survived by his five children: David Van Gillentine III and wife Anneil of Saltillo; Kay Collins and husband Harry of Tupelo; Jan Wigginton of Guntown; Nancy Heberling of Bakersfield, California; and Angie Drake and husband John of Irving, Texas.
Surviving grandchildren are Jennifer Henderson (Paul),Patrick Collins (Jill), Amelia Foote (Chuck), Nathaniel Wigginton (Brittany Griffin), Shannon Heberling; Tatum Collins; Grace Drake; and Mary Reed Drake.
Great grandchildren are Jake, Matthew and Nathan Henderson; Kaylee, Kage and Kadance Heberling; Skylar Griffin; Reed Collins; and Collins Foote.
Pallbearers are Patrick Collins, Nathaniel Wigginton, Tatum Collins, Chuck Foote, Paul Henderson, Todd Stringer, Andy Stringer and Kevin Gillentine.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, Sanctuary Hospice House or the Tupelo Children's Mansion.
Lee Memorial Funeral Home
5257 Raymond Avenue
Verona, MS 38879
Published in The Daily Journal on July 30, 2014