HOULKA – Coach James “Jimbo” Byars, 47, died Tuesday, January 15, 2013, at Sanctuary Hospice House after a brief illness. He was born August 13, 1965, in Tupelo to Gene and Sue Byars.
He was a 1983 graduate of Aberdeen High School. He attended Itawamba Junior College and was a 1993 graduate of Mississippi State University. He was an All-State baseball player at Aberdeen High School and IJC. He began his teaching and coaching career as a student teacher at Tupelo High School where he helped coach the baseball team to a state championship in 1993. He was a history teacher and coached baseball, softball, football and track and kept the time clock for basketball games at Houlka High School. He was selected Teacher of the Year in 2011 and Division 3-1A Coach of The Year in 2001-2002 and 2003-2004. He was the coach of the NEMCABB All-Star Game in 1995 and 2004. His 2004 Houlka Wildcat Baseball Team was Class 1A North Half Champions.
He was a member of First Baptist Church in Houlka and M & M Hunting Club. He loved hunting, fishing, playing golf and other sports with his brothers-in-law and was an avid history enthusiast.
Services will be 2 p.m. Friday at Houlka High School Gymnasium with Bro. David Blackwell and Bro. Jeff Harmon officiating. Burial will be in Lee Memorial Park. Lee Memorial Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
Survivors include his wife, Sonja Benefield Byars of Houlka; two sons, Joby Byars and Sawyer Byars, of the home; his father and mother, Gene and Sue Byars of Houston; one sister, Lee Norris (Alan) of Tupelo; his mother-in-law, Janie Benefield; his in-laws, Danny Benefield, Jimmie Hicks, Debra Bradley (Doyle), Judy Royce (Richard), Pauline Smith (Barry) and Lynn Mize (Thomas); his nieces and nephews, Victoria Norris, Kim Mishou (Derek), Cathy Bradley, April Hicks, Will Smith, Casey Smith and Maegan Mize; a great-niece, Abby Grace Gonzales; his aunts and uncles, Paul Byars (Erma), Dot Wright, Sarah Akins (Johnny), Betty Kelly and Diane Shaw (Edd); and several cousins.
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Reuben and Polly Byars and Evans and Myrlee Langford; his nephew, Shane Hicks; his father-in-law, W.J. Benefield and his brother-in-law, Terry Hicks.
Pallbearers will be Sid Burt, Seth Burt, Jock Moore, Dustin Eaton, Chris Huggins and Al -Jammi Davis. Honorary Pallbearers will be Jimmy Guy McDonald, Rob Allen, Vicki Homan, Brian Morgan, Todd Irvin and David Poss.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Sanctuary Hospice House.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday and following the service at First Baptist Church of Houlka.
A complete obituary will be published in the Wednesday, Jan. 23, Chickasaw Journal.