Miriam Owen Weems
Miriam Owen Weems
  • November 24, 1941 - August 20, 2011
  • Jackson, Mississippi

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Miriam Wilson Weems died Saturday, August 20, 2011, leaving behind a large and adoring following of dogs, cats and wine lovers.

She was the wife of Tommy Weems and the mother of Sam D. Knowlton III, of Oxford and Richard Baxter Wilson Knowlton of Little Rock, Arkansas and the step-mother of Kelly Weems Wollfarth of Mandeville, LA, Davis Weems Mitchell of Atlanta, GA and Caroline Weems Rushing of Aspen, CO.

Miriam was an artist of note. Her paintings reflect her happy spirit and love of color - the brighter and more vivid the better! She was the featured artist for many organizations and her paintings are prized by all who own them. She provided the art for the Christmas Cards of Senator Thad Cochran on several occasions as well Chancellor Robert Khayat of Ole Miss. She was the featured artist for Art for Heart and in 2001, she was selected to provide the poster for Julilee Jam. A collection of her works was published in the book Mostly Mississippi.

She came into painting quite by accident: she was working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Ole Miss to help her in her love of interior decorating and was required to take some painting courses. Instead of her taking the course, the course took her! Her first exhibition for her degree was "Hometown Hangouts" and featured the local bars and so forth in Oxford. Her teachers said there had never been an exhibit so well attended nor so completely sold out! Later she was presented in an exhibit by the University Museums under the instigation of Chancellor Khayat.

Miriam was born in Greenwood on November 24, 1941. Her parents were the late R. Baxter Wilson and the late Katherine Owen Wilson. She attended the Jackson Public Schools and was graduated from Murrah High School in 1959. After a year at Agnes Scott College, she transferred to the University of Mississippi where she was graduated in 1963. At Ole Miss, she was a member of Chi Omega Sorority, a campus favorite, Commander of Angel Flight, President of Mortar Board and Vice President of the Associated Women Students among many other honors.

In 1971, she was diagnosed with diabetes which she had lived with for 40 years. In 2004, she was the special honoree at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Celebrity Monopoly Gala which raised $117,000. She was a founding board member of the state chapter of the JDRF.

In Jackson, she was Queen of the Junior League Carnival Ball in 1963 and in 2004 was named Sustainer of the Year by the Junior League. She worked tirelessly for the Animal Rescue League in Jackson and had founded the Oxford Animal Rescue League. She was also the recipient of the Goodwill Industries Volunteer Services Award. She served on the New Stage Board (chairing benefits and art shows), the Friends of the Library Board (again chairing benefits), the Laurel Park Committee, and the Board of the Jackson Ole Miss Alumni Association. She was also an enthusiastic member of the Belhaven House & Garden Club as well as The Monday Club.

Miriam was one of the great characters of Jackson. The front porch of the home where she and Tommy lived was a famous gathering spot where great stories (as well as some lies) were freely swapped. She brought a beam of light into every crowd. A friend said to her brother: "She was the most cheerful person I knew - much more cheerful than you!" One of her favorite activities was to go to the Mayflower, sit in the front booth, and - between bites - greet everyone who came or went! And they all knew her! She was a communicant at St. Andrew's Cathedral where she served as a greeter - and there should be no surprise in that!

She adopted many fortunate dogs and - no doubt to the horror of her late mother (if she had known of it) cats, too! And she helped to place many more.

In addition to her husband and children, she is survived by her brother, Richard B Wilson, Jr, and his wife, Lester Senter Wilson, of Jackson, her sister-in-law, Betty Clarkson, also of Jackson and her brother-in-law, Bob Weems of Oxford.

This is a quote from Miriam's wishes: "In lieu of flowers, please adopt an unwanted pet from a local shelter." Additionally, the family requests that also in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Mississippi Animal Rescue League, the Oxford Lafayette Humane Society, ARF (Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi), CARA (Community Animal Rescue Association) or to a favorite charity.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Wright & Ferguson Funeral Home. The funeral will take place at the Cathedral Parish of Saint Andrew which is located at 305 East Capitol Street in Jackson. The service will begin at 11:00 am with visitation preceding it in the Parish Hall at 9:30 on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.