Born: October 28, 1923
Died: March 23, 2010
REV. J. T. PUGH
It was the "for better or for worse day, in sickness and in health day, till death do us part day. March 23, 2010, was the day Jesse Truman Pugh Lived for. It was the day JT Pugh became a spiritual being and left the cares of life for the splendor of heaven. Bessie Byrl, his mate of 65 years had told him the day before he left, "let's go together." Instead, she sat by his side as he made his journey into the land he had preached about, lived for and believed in since he was 12. As his last breath passed from his body, she led her family in prayer and then in the song that signified his life, "We're part of the family, the family of God."
Uncle Jay's life began in Noble, La, October 28, 1923 to an affluent farmer and his wife. He was the youngest of five and the only boy. Uncle Jay's life (that's how I knew him, but he was Dad, JT, Papa, Pastor Pugh, Bro. Pugh) changed drastically when he was four. That's when a tornado came through Noble and killed his father, Jesse Trulanzer Pugh. Uncle Jay, His mother, and sisters worked their farm trying to plant a crop and harvest it for money. It was no longer the best of times. It was the worst of times. And life was not finished. At the age of 13, JT lost his mother, Lucy Sanderson Pugh. To keep the young teenager from becoming a ward of the state, Iva Nell, and JT worked to keep the crops going. The young lad and his teenaged sister toiled grueling hours to overcoming scores of seemingly impossibilities. He learned gritty, unending determination.
By the time Uncle Jay was 12, the life he knew was harsh and cruel and the hours were long and tormented. And then he met the Master, and he was never the same. He learned of love where there had been loss. He learned of hope where there had been despair. He learned about joy where there had been desecration. His passion became his Savior and the rest of his life is history.
JT Pugh (Jesse Truman-he added those names in adulthood because Social Security required he have more than initials for a name) first pastored in Gorman, TX. At a youth rally, his eye fell on his sweet Bessie, and with his bride by his side, he moved to West Lake, Louisiana and started a church. After a tenure there, he moved to Port Arthur, TX and for the next 17 years built a church and a family. Datha Jo Dees now lives in Shelbyville, IN; Terry is in Odessa and Nathanael lives in Coppel, TX. They were years filled with laughter as the couple developed their ministry and their family. Uncle Jay's sense of humor really took shape and he became almost as well known for his pranks as for his wisdom. One time, after they moved to St. Louis, my family came to visit him. Aunt Bessie rode back with us and we were very crowded. As we started to leave, Uncle Jay came hurrying out with a large paper bag, carefully folded, and handed it to my dad. "Here, Bill. This is for you to take back to Odessa. Be very careful with it." My dad, hemmed and hawed as he tried to find a place for the bag to sit, finally putting it in the back seat under everyone's feet. Seven hours later, and much hollering from the kids, dad took the bag out to see what was in it. He found ashes and two old license plates used to clean the fireplace and all placed strategically in the bag. The story is still being told, as you can see.
Pastor Pugh was a dedicated servant of God, a visionary for the Pentecostal movement, and a beloved father. His children watched their father's love for God and his spiritual walk and as many children do, they emulated their father. All three are now in a form of ministry. And the heritage spread to their children. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
After 17 years in south Texas, JT Pugh was asked to be the Home Missions Director for the United Pentecostal Church and moved his family to St. Louis, Mo. Remember, JT was a visionary, a man after God's own heart. Under that six year leadership, The United Pentecostal Organization became the fastest growing church organization in America, a trend that continued for several years after he left because of the programs and plans he put into place.
His life journey continued to evolve in Odessa where he became the pastor of the First United Pentecostal Church. By this time, Pastor Pugh had become a well known speaker and teacher in the Pentecostal organization as well as an author. His vision took him all over the world to impart hope and wisdom to pastors and congregations alike. During his time in Odessa he was also the District Superintendent of the Texico District of the UPC.
Pastor Pugh led the Odessa church for 18 years before he retired, establishing a solid congregation and building a new and dynamic facility. His son, Terry Pugh, was voted in as pastor and Pastor Pugh became Pastor Emeritus to the congregation.
As his retirement set in, Papa became Uncle Jay's common name as grandchildren flocked to his house. He also dedicated himself to writing and ministering. Among the books he authored were Dating Tips, For Preachers Only, The Flesh of God, The Wisdom and The Power of the Cross,and Must a Religious Organization die? There were many more. His message related to all because his passion for knowing his Lord flowed through and out of him. Bessie, commented one day that she had only been married about twenty years because he'd been gone the last thirty years. His ministry was big, though. It could not be contained in a space. A world awaited the words God placed in his heart.
He was such a gentleman to his wife. He wanted a big celebration for their 50 years together. The song that ended the night was "You will Always Be Beautiful In My Eyes." She was that to him and more. They lived in respect for each other. They cared and loved together. They were icons to a world filled with miscommunication and divorce. True lovers in God's eyes, spiritual partners to the end of their time. The 50 years passed and 15 more years were added to their togetherness. The years became hard again, as Bessie became ill and JT became the caregiver. His sisters, Ozella Ebarb, Marie Campbell, Tessie Pugh and Iva Nell Pugh had long passed. He cared for Bessie and still found a way for his ministry to continue. He used 21st century technology and spoke to congregations from his computer.
He started out on horse and buggy and rode into the future of fast moving technology embracing life, love, and God all the way. He was a 20th century baby and became a 21st century man long before the 21st century arrived. We may bury our leaders, but we do not bury their work.
I'm sad for you if you did not know him. He was a mentor, a teacher, a friend, a pastor, a husband, a dad, a brother. He touched lives. His business was imparting God and he did it with all of his being. He was a good man, a David facing Goliath, a Peter, walking the water, a Saul, carrying the gospel.
Pastor Pugh, a man who loved his God, left life without his wife, Bessie, His heritage is carried on by his children Datha, Terry and Nathanael, 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren. From his heart, six ministers were born to follow in their father and grandfather's footsteps.
The commemorative service will be held Friday, March 26 at 1:00 pm at the 1st United Pentecostal Church. A memorial service was held Wednesday, March 24, for the church he helped direct, and a viewing will be held, Thursday, March 25, from 6-9 pm at the 1st United Pentecostal Church. He will lie in state at the church, which will be open 10:00 am-9:00 pm Thursday, prior to the viewing.
Thank you -- Uncle Jay, JT, Papa, Dad, Bro. Pugh, Pastor Pugh -- for the life you lived, the journey you took, the road you carved, the strength you showed and the love you portrayed.
Bessie Beryl Halbrooks Pugh (1924 - 2010)*
Sunset Memorial Gardens
Plot: Good Shepherd East Plot 145 Lot 3
Created by: Anonymous Child
Record added: Mar 23, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 50140143