Obituary: JT Purnell

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

A Celebration of Life service for JT Purnell, 78, of Pryor will be held on Friday, March 10, 2017 at 2 p.m. at Community Worship Center at 6688 La. 70 N., Belle Rose. Pastor Don Williams will officiate. Services are entrusted to Stephens-Key Funeral and Cremation Care in Pryor, Okla.

JT Purnell was born on July 14, 1938, to James Thomas and Elizabeth L. (Karr) Purnell in Ponca City, Okla. He entered his forever home on February 27, 2017, in Broken Arrow at the age of 78 years, 7 months and 13 days.

JT spent his early childhood in Ponca City, Okla. At the age of 14 his family moved to Pryor. He attended Pryor High School until joining the United States Navy in 1955. On May 25, 1963, he married June Lewis of Pryor, Okla. JT would begin his career in an entry level position in the fertilizer industry and his career would span some 40 years starting in Corsicana, Texas, then Donaldsonville, La., then Memphis, Tenn., with stops in Iowa and Trinidad and Tobago as well.

JT’s career culminated with him overseeing and ultimately commissioning the largest ammonia producing facility in the world at that time and he did it in another country. With only a high school education, JT’s deliberate and purposeful desire to learn and educate him, led him to become one of the most revered and respected men of the industry. He taught many engineers their “actual” job.

Until recently, he was still called upon for consulting advice on ammonia processes and management from numerous companies.

His heart for God gave him, along with June, the courage to start the Assembly of God Church in Donaldsonville in their home in the 1980’s. He was also fundamental in helping other churches particularly in helping with sound system setups and running sound systems as well.  JT aka “The Man Upstairs”, as the Community Worship Center congregation called him, is adjusting the sound systems in the Heavenlys as we speak.

JT loved gospel music; Guy Penrod was his favorite singer.  He enjoyed being outdoors and fishing.  If you went to visit Mr. JT you would always talk politics and Thunder basketball.  He loved his family very much; his wife, kids and grandkids were the most important thing in his life.  He also adored his only great grandchild, Charli Rose.

He is survived by his wife, June, of the home; one son John Tracy Purnell of Pryor; one daughter Shelly Purnell Kerek and husband Damain of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; four grandchildren, Chace and Katrina, Joshua, Angelle and husband Patrick and Clayton and one great granddaughter Charli Rose and several nieces, nephews, cousins and other relatives and friends.

He is preceded in death by his parents, two sons, Kevin and J. Mark Purnell, one brother, Bill Purnell and two sisters, Betty Campbell and Maxine Herod.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be sent to First Fruit Ministries for the Mana Children’s Home in Raipur, India in memory of JT Purnell.  The address is 3906 S. Peoria, Tulsa, OK 74105.