RIPLEY, Tenn. – John Donald Mead, 81, of Ripley, died Sunday, May 4, 2014, at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, after a long and courageous battle with heart disease.
John was born Feb. 27, 1933, in Morrison, the son of Warren and Evelyn (Fulrath) Mead.
He is survived by his wife, Florence Catherine (Sharp) Mead. The couple were married at the Sterling Nazarene Church, with the Rev. H.C. Hatton officiating.
John excelled in his 21-year career with the Navy. He achieved the position of chief aviation structural mechanic (hydraulics), and was advanced to the rank of chief petty officer, a post he held until his retirement. He honorably served three tours of duty in Vietnam. He was awarded numerous certificates and awards for service, including the Navy Achievement Medal with Combat V.
While in the military, John discovered his natural talent for teaching. He loved to teach, and served as a faculty member at both the Naval Air Technical Training Center and at Tennessee State Technical Institute. He was a pioneer in computer managed instruction. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for developing a new curriculum (1973-1977) that transitioned the aviation fundamentals course from conventional instruction methods to computer managed instruction, saving the Navy a sizeable amount of money, and enhancing the students (sailors) learning process and retention. The commendation read, in part, “Chief Mead’s professional performance and devoted efforts reflect great credit upon himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
As the owner of Mead Woodworking, John created lasting beauty. He was an expert woodworker who designed and produced museum-quality furniture and clocks. He was known throughout the mid-south for his unique ability to restore precious, but badly damaged antiques to their original state.
With his wife, Florence, John was a tireless advocate for animals at the national and local level. Together, the couple served as leaders in the Lauderdale County, Tennessee, Humane Society. John also loved classic movies and railroad trains.
He also is survived by his sister-in-law, Violet Mead of Rock Falls; nephew, Warren (Gwen) Mead, their daughter, Karen Sue Cummings of Rock Falls, and her children, Ashley, Brittney, and Chelsey; and nephew, Donald (Barbara) Mead, of Walnut, and their children, Bryce and Aaron.
John will be missed by members of Florence’s family who were close to him, including the following nieces and nephews: Sharon Dickey Johnson and her family of Rock Falls, Dr. Nancy Lauts of Pocatello, Idaho, Timothy (Mary) Lauts of Rock Falls, Stephen Lauts and Bradley Lauts of Sterling, Amy Lauts Ayotte and her children of South Beloit; Doug (Greta) Lair of Sterling, Ronald (Jamie) Moffitt Jr. of Sterling, Gerald Moffitt of Nevada, Lisa Wagner (Steve) Caldwell of Columbia Falls, Montana, Laura Wagner (Gentry) Yost of Pocatello, Idaho, and others too numerous to mention. He will be remembered by his special friends, Jeanette and Carey Wright and family, of Covington, Tennessee.
John was preceded in death by his father and mother; brother, Frances “Bud” (Violet) Mead; stepfather, Charles McNitt; great-niece, Sarah Mead; his beloved in-laws, William F. and Nancy J. Sharp; numerous brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law; and nephews, including Isaac Lair, Elijah Lair, Adrian Johnson Sr., Llewellyn Ellis, and Mark William Wagner.
John was a member of the Methodist church. Cremation rites were accorded by Covington Funeral Home in Covington, with burial at sea.
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding,” Proverbs 3:5