James Robert (J.R.) Black Jr.

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ABILENE James Robert (J.R.) Black Jr., 98, passed away Monday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Wisteria Place Nursing Home in Abilene, Texas. A celebration service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in the First Baptist Church canctuary with Dr. Phil Christopher officiating under the direction of Elliott-Hamil Funeral Home, 5701 Highway 277 South, Abilene. Viewing was held Wednesday at the funeral home and the family received friends Wednesday evening at the home of Charlie and Leigh Black, 1465 Tanglewood, Abilene, 79605. J.R. was born on Sept. 14, 1915, in Baird, Texas, to James Robert Black Sr. and Ada Eubanks Black. Ada died when J.R. was eight years old and he and his six younger brothers lived with their Dad and grandparents in Admiral. When J.R. was in high school, his father married Minnie Mills and they moved to Abilene, where his father was 42nd District Judge. J.R. graduated from Baird High School and Hardin Simmons University. He received his law degree from the University of Texas Law School in 1942. J.R. had just begun his law practice when World War II began, and he, along with five of his brothers, left home to serve in the armed forces. J.R. was a captain in the U.S. Army. He received five Bronze Battle Participation Stars and also the Bronze Arrowhead for D-Day landing at Gela, Sicily. He served with the 106th Infantry in North Africa, Sicily and Corsica, and with the 1175th Engineer Combat Group in France and Germany. At the close of the war, he was assigned to the war crimes branch at Nuremberg, but asked to be relieved of active duty in order to return home so that he could be married, consummating an engagement of three years. He married Mary Matilda Roberts of Blackshear, Ga., on Oct. 19, 1945. They settled in Abilene where they lived all of their married lives, raising four children. Both J.R. and Mary had rural roots and the family spent a great deal of time in the countryside near Abilene. They often traveled to Southeast Georgia for cherished visits with Mary's family. J.R. enjoyed a successful career as an attorney with the law firm of Scarborough, Black, Tarpley, and Scarborough. When Mary became ill with early onset Alzheimer's, J.R. became of counsel with the firm in order to care for Mary. When it was necessary for Mary to move to Sears Nursing Home, J.R. visited her twice daily for more than 11 years. He was an active member of First Baptist Church where he taught in the fifth grade Sunday school class, was a deacon emeritus, served on many committees, and until recently, a greeter on Sunday mornings. J.R. was a talented gardener and an expert pecan grower. He had become interested in pecan trees during visits to South Georgia and into his nineties was avid in his pursuit of growing pecans. He won numerous awards for his pecans at the local, county and state level and was called on to judge competitions and to help identify varieties of pecans for judging. J.R. was an involved, supportive father, generous in all ways toward his children and grandchildren, creating a hospitable place for family visits. J.R. delighted in his eight grandchildren with regular visits around the state and out-of-state as long as Mary could travel and always with phone calls and cards. J.R. enjoyed coaching Little League baseball, taking a Dixie All-Star team to the state finals. J.R. was in most ways a quiet man. His friends and family will remember his dry wit, his whistling, his extraordinary drive and ability to win at dominoes, his accomplished harmonica playing, his chili, his peanut brittle, his pecan pies and his exemplary dedication to keeping in touch. J.R. leaves behind many fishing buddies and countless tales of catching "THE BIGGER ONE." Preceding him in death were his wife; parents; stepmother; and his brothers, N. E. "Tommy" Black, Gordon "Hut" Black, Ray "Pinkie" Black, George Truett Black, Truman Black and Eugene Black. Survivors include daughters Betty Ruth Black and husband Luc Kerkhof of Raleigh, N.C., Jeannie Gambill and husband Clint of Houston; sons Robert Black and wife Melinda of San Angelo, Charlie Black and wife Leigh of Abilene; grandchildren Harley, Casey, Travis, Emilee, Taylor, Mendy, Terrell and Peter; and great-grandchildren Koller, Cooper and Ethan. He is also survived by sisters-in-law Wanda Black and Jane Black; and numerous nieces and nephews in Texas and Georgia. Memorials may be made to First Baptist Church Foundation. You may view and sign guestbook at elliott-hamil.com.

Published in GoSanAngelo from Feb. 20 to Feb. 21, 2014
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Abilene, TX   (325) 698-2200
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