Maj. Gen. (Retired) James Robert Mercer of Gainesville, Ga., passed away on Nov. 10, 2013, surrounded by his family, after an extended illness. Born on Dec. 2, 1933, in Athens, Ga., to James Washington Mercer and Louise Burney Mercer, he was raised in the shadows of Sanford Stadium. He attended Athens High School and then the University of Georgia
, where he majored in Animal Husbandry and graduated in 1956.
Gen. Mercer's military career began in June 1956 as a distinguished military graduate from Air Force ROTC at the University of Georgia. He served on active duty in the Air Force from August 1956 to August 1959, and then in the Air Force Reserve through March 1963. He then joined the Georgia Air National Guard, serving from March 1963 until his retirement in 1989. After 33 years overall of military service, including combat missions during the Vietnam War
, he retired with the rank of major general, finishing as the chief of staff for the Georgia Air National Guard. Gen. Mercer was a command pilot with more than 4,500 hours flying the B-25, C-119, C-97, C-124, C-130, and T-29 aircraft. His awards included the Meritorious Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal.
In his civilian life, he began a career in poultry with Cobb Inc. in 1962. He remained with them his entire career, eventually becoming the director of production for the US operation of Cobb Vantress Inc.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mary Nash Mercer, formerly of Athens, Ga.; their five children (and spouses), Robin (Sylvia), Jennie (Rex), Kelly (Casey), Kim (Ben), Shannon (Kelly); 13 grandchildren, Valerie, Avery, Zach, John, Jenna, Katy, Nash, Mary, Emily, Susie, Vance, Ellie, Lanie; three great-grandchildren, Mac, Annie and Rex.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Salvation Army, Hospice of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, 2150 Limestone Parkway, Gainesville, GA 30501, or First Baptist Church, 751 Green St., Gainesville, GA 30501.
Funeral services will be at the First Baptist Church Chapel, Friday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m. Dr. Bill Coates will officiate. The family will receive friends following the service in the Banquet Hall.
Those wishing to make online condolences may do so at www.littledavenport.com.
Little & Davenport Funeral Home, 355 Dawsonville Highway S.W., Gainesville, GA 30501, is in charge of arrangements.