Jewel Claire Merritt
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Jewel Claire Merritt
  • October 5, 1927 - June 9, 2014
  • Mississippi

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Mrs. James Merritt (who did not care for flowery phrases) died on June 9, 2014. Visitation will be from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesday June 10, 2014, in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church, Jackson. The funeral will be on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, at 11:00am in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church. The graveside service will be private.

Jewel Claire Pittman was born on October 5, 1927, the child of Dr. J.J. Pittman and Mattie Albritton Pittman of Tylertown, Mississippi. She attended Mississippi College in Clinton, graduating in 1949 with a degree in piano. While at MC, Jukie met her future spouse, James Edwin Merritt of Petal. They made many life-long friends at Mississippi College who continue to meet monthly for food and fellowship.

James and Jukie married on August 7, 1949, and the couple moved to Merigold, Mississippi where they taught school and James coached football. In 1953, James was hired as an assistant football coach at Central High School and they moved to Jackson. Their sons, Jim and Greg were each delivered in the Tylertown Hospital by their grandfather, Dr. J.J. Pittman. Upon the opening of Murrah High School, James became the first head football coach and later its second principal.

While her children were young, Jewel taught and directed kindergartens at Broadmoor Baptist Church and Woodland Hills Baptist Church. She later returned to the public school system, teaching first and second grades at Duling, Jones, Power, and Woodville Heights Elementary Schools.

Mrs. Merritt was not only a teacher, but a learner. In addition to her B.A., she earned a Masters of Education Degree from Mississippi College and an Advanced Teaching Certificate for work beyond the Masters’ level. “Ms M” climaxed her teaching career by pioneering the gifted program at Woodville Heights which was her pride and joy.

James and Jewel were active in every church of which they were members during their 64 years of marriage. They taught Sunday School for over 60 years and were instrumental in the early development of the Singles Ministry at First Baptist Church, Jackson. Jewel was a member of the Sanctuary Choir and later of the Senior Adult “Reflections” Choir at First Baptist. After their retirements from public education, James and Jewel spent several months in Tel Aviv, Israel as houseparents at the mission home for missionary kids who were attending school away from their parents.

Mrs. Merritt is survived by her husband, James; her sons, Jim Merritt of Clinton and Dr. Greg Merritt of Hattiesburg (Leslie); her grandchildren, Wade Merritt, Leigh Segrest (Spencer), and Davis Merritt (Kathleen); her brother, Dr. Jimmy Pittman of Laurel (Cindy); and many nieces and nephews.

Memorials gifts may be made to the Lottie Moon offering at First Baptist Church Jackson or to a charity of your choice.