Howard Early Kerce

Mr. Howard Early Kerce, 84, of Madison, MS, was called home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on January 1, 2018.  Visitation will be held on Thursday, January 4, 2018 from 10a.m. until 12 p.m. at Colonial Heights Baptist Church located at 444 North Park Dr. in Ridgeland, MS. Funeral Service will begin immediately following visitation. Interment will follow in the Natchez Trace Memorial Park Cemetery at 759 Hwy 51 Madison, MS. 

Howard was born on October 22, 1933 to the late John Wesley Kerce and & Elizabeth Quarles Kerce in Rome, Georgia. He graduated from Rome H.S. in 1951. He met the love of his life, Mary Dempsey Kerce, while attending Friendship Baptist Church in Rome, GA.  After a short courtship of only a year, they were married on November 24, 1954.  Their marriage lasted for more than 62 years, until her death in 2016.  Howard was a devoted and loving Husband, Father and Grandfather.   Above all else, Howard invested his time and efforts into people and relationships.  He lived his life as an example we should all hope to follow by showing love and kindness to everyone he met.


Howard had a rewarding career in retail management that lasted more than 43 years.  He began his career in his hometown with the Sears Roebuck Company in their management training program.  After 13 years with Sears, he took a position in Dothan, AL with the J. C. Penney Company serving as Operations Manager.  After stops in Alabama, Florida, and Louisiana, he moved his family to Jackson, MS, a place that he has called home for the past 50 years.  This is a decision he never regretted, primarily because of the warmth that he felt for the people and relationships he developed here.  He retired from the J. C. Penney Co. in 1993 at the age of 60.


After retirement, Howard began focusing his attention on his grandchildren and other outside activities for which he had developed a passion.  He very seldom missed one of the grandchildren’s activities whether it be a School Play, Honors Day, Sporting Events, or Graduations.  If it was important to his grandchildren and children, it was important to him.  Howard and his wife, Mary, were members of Colonial Heights Baptist Church for 50 years and cherished their time at the church, especially their Sunday School class that remained together for many years.   


Howard loved the brotherhood of the Scottish Rite Bodies and Masonic Organization.  He was a 33º Mason and was appointed the most distinguished honor in the organization, Sovereign Grand Inspector General. He always explained that he enjoyed this work because of the organizations and causes that they supported, such as the Scottish Rite Hospitals for Children.  He also served on the Board for the Magnolia Speech School for many years.  Through his involvement in the Magnolia Speech School, he was instrumental in bringing awareness to the issue of reading disorders in Mississippi, and specifically Dyslexia.  He worked tirelessly with school teachers and political leaders in Mississippi to bring awareness and funding to this issue. 


Howard is preceded in death by his parents, John Wesley Kerce & Elizabeth Quarles Kerce, and five brothers, John Cecil Kerce, Ralph Burton Kerce, Robert Edwin Kerce, James Nevin Kerce, Frank Quarles Kerce . 


Howard is survived by one sister, Sarah Kerce Howe of Rome Georgia, one daughter, Susan Kerce Murphy (Walter) of Jackson, MS. One son, Howard Michael Kerce (Susie) of Jackson, MS., four grandchildren, Elizabeth Anne Murphy of New Orleans, LA, Mary Katherine Hood (Seth) of Memphis, TN, Ellen Ross Kerce of Birmingham, AL., and John Wesley Kerce II of Jackson, MS. 


The family wishes to express its loving and heartfelt gratitude to the many caregivers that so lovingly cared for our parents, Howard and Mary,  in the later years of their lives.   


In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to The Magnolia Speech School.