• 59°

H.L. “Sonny” Merideth

Funeral services and visitation for H.L. “Sonny” Merideth, Jr., 86, of Gulf Breeze, FL will be at 10 a.m., Saturday, September 9 at Avon United Methodist Church, 38 Avon Dr., North, 8 miles south of Greenville, MS on Highway 1.  He passed away unexpectedly at home on Tuesday, September 6 in Gulf Breeze, FL. Arrangements are under the direction of Boone Funeral Home, Greenville.

Sonny was born on December  7, 1930, in Swiftwater, Mississippi, to H. L. “Red” Merideth, Sr. and Cassel Boatright Merideth.  He attended Riverside Consolidated High School in Washington County.  He received his undergraduate degree from Mississippi State University and his law degree from The University of Mississippi.

Sonny served his country with distinction in the Korean Conflict, being awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Korean Service Medal.

Sonny resided in Greenville for most of his life, was a prominent lawyer in The Delta, and was a respected member of The Mississippi House of Representatives, serving for 32 years from 1960 through 1991.  During his legislative tenure, he served as Chairman of the County Affairs Committee, Chairman of the Select Committee on Economic Development, Chairman of the Judiciary A Committee, Chairman of the Special Gaming Commission Subcommittee, and Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.  He was instrumental in crafting and passing the Education Reform Act of 1982, the 1987 Four-Lane Highway Construction Program, and many other monumental legislations including property reappraisal and gaming.

Sonny was known for his steadfast moral character, integrity, tenacious work ethic, and sharp mind.  These qualities, along with his knowledge of House Rules, and keen ability to steer bills through the legislative process, contributed to his being affectionately dubbed by his colleagues as “The Silver Fox.”  He was a skilled orator and was known for his meticulous preparation, command of the facts, fairness, and honesty.  When Sonny took the podium in the well of the House, he received the undivided attention of the members.  In addressing House colleagues, Sonny frequently said, “Search your mind and search your heart.”  He was respectful of others and always made time for everyone.  His trusted word was his most valuable asset.

Sonny received numerous honors including “Mississippi Elected Official of the Year” in 1983 by the Mississippi Chapter of The American Society of Public Administrators, “Outstanding Orator” award in 1977 by his fellow legislators, and “Outstanding Legislator” in 1975 by The Mississippi State Bar.

Sonny was a member of The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Bar Association, The Mississippi State Bar Association, and The Washington County Bar Association, and a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers.

Sonny enjoyed reading biographies and autobiographies with his trusted dog “Lady” at his side, visiting with friends and family at his home on Pensacola Bay, telling and listening to old war stories from his political days, and travel.  He particularly enjoyed riding horseback in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming with his cowboy friends Bill Beard, Lyle Beard, and Jim Beard.  He enjoyed spending time with Wade and Holly McKoy when in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.   

Sonny Merideth was a distinguished leader in The State of Mississippi and a mentor to many who knew him.  Sonny was the epitome of practicality, value and frugality.  Some have recently commented that Sonny was the most honorable and ethical man that they have ever known.  He will be greatly missed by his family and friends and will always be in our memories.

Sonny is survived by his wife, Linda, his K-9 companion, “Lady,” two sons, David (Ashley) and Philip (Dee), and four grandsons, Carter, Reeves, Judson, and Squire.