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Rev James Shelby Thompson
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Birth: Jan. 31, 1909
Tennessee, USA
Death: Oct. 16, 2003
Gibson County
Tennessee, USA

James Shelby Thompson, son of Wayne and Emma Thompson, was born in Gibson County near the small rural community of Nebo, Tennessee, on January 31, 1909. Wayne and Emma were loyal Methodists and hard-working farmers. They raised Shelby with a burning passion for Jesus and a strong love for farming that stuck with him all the days of his life.

Shelby took Mary Opal Wylie to be his wedded wife on September 24, 1938. The couple followed through on the grace of God and became very active in Christ's holy church.

He was a tall, stately, Spirit-driven man, called into the ministry in 1946, and licensed to preach in the Memphis Annual Conference the following year. He enrolled in the Course of Study School at Emory University, became a Deacon in 1952, an Elder in 1954, and an Associate Member in 1969.

God gave Shelby and Opal two children, Jimmy and Joyce, and a love for home and family, but Opal was very sick. Shelby had pledged his constant faith and abiding love to Opal,and he truly gave it in sickness and in health. He was renowned for the affectionate care and devotion he gave to her during her long illness. Death split their marriage on January 15, 1973.

Shelby continued to follow in the way of the Master, and his home life soon surged forward. One of his church members for eleven years was Wilma Thornton Sims. Shelby and Wilma married on August 15, 1974. She was a lifelong member of Grier's Chapel UMC, but she left there to go with him everywhere he went. A few words cannot reveal their devotion to Jesus, to each other, and all their accomplishments, but they served together in a vital and fruitful ministry until he retired in 1979.

Retirement was nothing more than an illusion or a momentary lull in this godly man's life. Shelby was reappointed for two more good years. And, after that, because everyone knew they would hear a great sermon when he stepped behind a pulpit, and because he had gained the respect of multitudes, he was very busy filling in, holding revivals, speaking at homecomings, performing weddings, and preaching funerals. People loved to hear him preach because he was grace-filled, he walked the walk, he was very down-to-earth, he stuck to the Bible, he was full of patience, and he displayed a wonderful sense of good, clean humor.

Wilma died on August 10, 1994, but Shelby continued to preach and farm. On January 31, 1999, at the age of ninety, he preached his last sermon. At the age of ninety-two, he performed his last official act as a pastor, a wedding. His loving family cared for him at home until his death on October 16, 2003.

Shelby's favorite scripture was, "And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (I Cor. 13:13). He was buried at Bell Vernon Cemetery at Friendship, Tennessee, with Rev. Daymond Duck and Rev. Wayne P. Holmes officiating.

Survivors include: Jimmy and his wife Nancy McVay; Joyce and her husband Kenneth McEwen; Jimmy's son Stephen (wife Amanda, two daughters, Shelby Lynn and Haley); and daughter Cindy (husband Dale Prater and son Austin); Joyce's son Tim (wife Amy and son Samuel); Keith (wife Dee Ann and son Grant); and Jeffrey (wife Ginger).

--Daymond Duck
Printed in the Memphis Annual Conference Journal of the United Methodist Church in 2004 
Family links: 
  Wayne W Thompson (1876 - 1967)
  Emma E Lemons Thompson (1876 - 1944)
  Opal Wylie Thompson (1914 - 1973)*
  Shelby Joyce Thompson McEwen (1944 - 2009)*
*Calculated relationship
Bellevernon Cemetery
Crockett County
Tennessee, USA
Created by: Randy Adams
Record added: Mar 05, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 49153033
Rev James Shelby Thompson
Added by: Melissa (Tolene) Rura
Rev James Shelby Thompson
Added by: Randy Adams
Rev James Shelby Thompson
Added by: Randy Adams
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- Browneyes
 Added: Jan. 19, 2011

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