Funeral services are scheduled at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer
on 230 West Monticello Street, in Brookhaven, Tuesday, October 3 at 2:00, with
visitation before the service set for 1:00. Burial will be in Rosehill Cemetery in
Brookhaven. Memorials may be made to the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer,
P.O. Box 804, Brookhaven, MS 39602, or to the Mississippi School of the Arts,
P.O. Box 229, Brookhaven, MS 39602.
William Owen Mayfield, Jr. passed from life to death at the age of 89 on Friday,
September 29, 2017 at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Owen was born in
Greenwood, Mississippi on April 27, 1928. He was the son of William Owen Mayfield,
who died on July 5, 1943, and Myrtle Fulgham Mayfield, who died on December 26, 1975.
A younger sister, Sara Ann Mayfield Rankin died on April 29, 1997. Owen spent his boyhood
and early youth in Brookhaven. He attended the Roman Catholic parochial school
of St. Francis of Assisi through the eighth grade where he was taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame.
A member of the parish, he was an altar boy who often served Mass celebrated by Father Martin McHale,
the town's popular priest. He then attended Brookhaven High School, graduating in the Class
of 1946. This Class received brief national notoriety when Time Magazine reported in its weekly
column, "Miscellany", the "smelly performance" of the senior class play when a watchman-chased
skunk abruptly joined the audience on opening night. Owen had fond memories of classes in
English literature and grammar, taught by Theresa Abshagen; in American history, taught by
Josie Burns; and, in algebra and geometry, taught by Principal Steve Renfro. At Brookhaven High,
Owen lettered in football, basketball and track, and played center on the successful football team
of 1944 which, during the regular season, lost only to the State Champion McComb team, and
had two post-season victories, including the Lions' Bowl game of 1944 against Newton High in Jackson.
Following graduation from Brookhaven High School, Owen was admitted into a naval
aviation program of the United States Navy which allowed attendance at the college
of choice before entrance into flight training at Pensacola, Florida.
He attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana from September 1946
to May 1948. He was a member of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. At Tulane, he particularly
enjoyed the French language classes of Professor Ditchy; the classes in Greek and Roman
history and culture of Professor Geer; and, the creative writing class led by Professor Husband
with Roark Bradford as author in residence.
Entering Flight Training in Pensacola, Florida in June 1948 as an Aviation Midshipman,
Owen completed this training in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 17, 1950 when he was
designated a Naval Aviator. He was assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet, and joined
Patrol Squadron Twenty-Six, an anti-submarine squadron, in Port Lyautey, French Morocco
where he was commissioned Ensign USN in June 1950. During the transfer of this squadron
to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, on June 25,1950, the Korean War began. In August 1951,
Owen returned to Port Lyautey, joining Transport Squadron Twenty-Four which had
frequent flights to the capitals of Western Europe in logistical support of NATO, and to the
Mediterranean seaports of the Sixth Fleet of the U.S. Navy.
In December 1952, Owen was released from active duty in Washington, D.C. Later,
he continued active reserve service until 1969 by joining Naval Air Reserve Squadrons
located in Brooklyn, New York and Memphis, Tennessee, while living in those vicinities.
In January 1953, Owen entered Columbia University in New York. He was a member
of the Bicentennial Class of 1954 in the undergraduate school for men, Columbia College, obtaining
a Bachelor of Arts degree. At Columbia College, he was privileged to attend some of the classes taught
by the school's great faculty which included Mark Van Doren, Jacques Barzun, Lionel Trilling,
Gilbert Highet and C. Wright Mills. In 1955, he entered the School of Business at Columbia University
where he received a Master of Science degree. A lasting memory was his attendance in a class taught
by Professor Phillip Dodd, co-author with Benjamin Graham of Security Analysis, the seminal
text in this field, which, through the years, has had many updated editions.
Owen returned to Mississippi in the summer of 1955 and entered the School of Law
at the University of Mississippi. He was a member of the Law Journal and Moot Court Board,
and was nominated to Omicron Delta Kappa. He graduated in the Class of 1958, obtaining the
degree of Bachelor of Laws in June 1958, and, later, the degree of Juris Doctor in May 1968. At
Law School, the faculty included Dean Robert Farley, John Fox, Joel Bunkley, Hector Currie
and William Murphey.
After Law School, Owen married in July 1958 and lived briefly in McComb, where
he practiced law, before moving to the Mississippi Delta where he lived with his wife and family,
first, in Tutwiler and then in Clarksdale. When the marriage ended, he moved to Jackson in 1990.
At the time of his death, he was a resident of Ridgeland. He is survived by three children,
William Owen Mayfield, III, (Stephanie), of Seattle, Washington; Julia Mayfield Ott, (Paul),
of Ridgeland, Mississippi; and Laura Mayfield, of Clarksdale. He is a proud grandfather of
Paul Vegas Ott, Jr. and Charlie Ott; and step-grandfather of Ted Langlie and Arthur Langlie.