John Morell Sumner, Sr.

February 13, 1937 – January 10, 2022

John Morell Sumner, Sr. died Monday, January 10, 2022, in Oxford, Mississippi. ‘Nat’,
as he was known by many, was born February 13, 1937, in Long Beach, California. He
lived in Stewart, Mississippi, through the second grade before moving with his family to
Winona, Mississippi, where he graduated from high school. From there he went to the
University of Mississippi, obtaining his undergraduate degree. He was privileged to
serve his country in the United States Air Force from 1959-1962, his love of country
unwavering until his death. Nat returned to his beloved University of Mississippi to
obtain a law degree, and while there he met the woman who would become his wife,
Mary Neal Hall of Canton. They settled in Winona, where Nat practiced law, and they
raised their three children, before moving to Oxford in 2013. A man of deep humility and
abundant generosity, Mr. Sumner served his church, his family, and his community well.
He preferred anonymity over recognition, but particularly dear to him were his
opportunities for service as a Deacon and an Elder at the First Presbyterian Church in
Winona, as a Board Member at French Camp Academy, and as the attorney for the E.
H. Sumners Foundation. He also enjoyed his time on the Board of Directors for both the
University of Mississippi Alumni Association and the University of Mississippi

Mr. Sumner was preceded in death by his parents, James Carliss Sumner, Sr. and
Margaret Elizabeth Morell Sumner. He is survived by his wife, Neal, their children, John
Morell Sumner, Jr. (Leigh), Susan Sumner Fortenberry (Frank), and Harry Hall Sumner,
Sr. (Trice); his grandchildren, Shelby Sumner Dye (Gary), Bryan Morell Sumner, Rankin
Sumner Fortenberry, Walker O’Neal Fortenberry, Niland Sumners Fortenberry, Wesley
Warriner Sumner, and Harry Hall Sumner, Jr.; his brother, James Carliss Sumner, Jr.
(Ward), and many wonderful nieces and nephews.

Visitation for Mr. Sumner will be Friday, January 14, 2022 at the First Presbyterian
Church of Winona, Mississippi, from 1:00 PM-2:30 PM. The Service will follow at 2:30
PM. Rev. Andy Coburn and Rev. Lance Ragsdale will officiate the service. A graveside service with military honors will follow at Oakwood Cemetery in Winona, Mississippi. Pallbearers will be Sumner Fortenberry, Bryan Sumner, Hall Sumner, Gary Dye, Christopher Elston, and David Ware. Honorary pallbearers will be Jerry Hoover, Terry Howard, James Hunger, John Rigby, George Weaver, Jamie Hudson, Joe Hudson, Al Baker, and Raymond Dearman.

Memorials may be made to The First Presbyterian Church of Winona, Mississippi,
French Camp Academy, or the charity of your choice.

7 thoughts on “John Morell Sumner, Sr.

  1. I express sorrow to the family and friends of John Morell Sumner, Sr. I pray our Lord’s love, comfort and strength for each of you.


  2. Neal, I am so sorry to hear about John…my prayers for you and your family🙏🏻 Such wonderful memories of your family just up the hill from us in Westland Heights. Praying God’s comfort


  3. So sorry for your loss. I can remember being at squirrel camp with mama cleaning and Mr. John would pull up with the biggest smile with so much love for the place and everyone. I always remember him being happy and smiling. I wanted make an appearance today at church to be there in place of my mother Debbie but my job had me out of town on deliver. My prayer are with you and your family Neal. I pray God give you strength and comfort and keeps you with that same beautiful happy smile that I alway saw in Mr. John. With deepest sympathy and love


  4. We have many fond memories of your family when we had our condo across the street in Oxford. Nat loved to sit on his front porch in his chair. He will be missed. Prayers for your family.
    The Laseter Family. Jeff, Melissa, Walker, Emory and Matthew
    Our parents, Johnette and Joe Colingo


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