Obituary – James P. “Jim” Spell, MD

Published 8:57 am Thursday, May 30, 2019

James P. “Jim” Spell, MD, 89, the son of Jay P. Spell and Corinne Kervin Spell, passed away Tuesday, May 28, 2019, at his home in Oxford, Mississippi. The cause of death was complications of Parkinson’s Disease and cancer.  A memorial service will be held Saturday, June 1, 2019, at 11 a.m. at Oxford-University United Methodist Church with Rev. Eddie Rester and Rev. Warren Black officiating.  Visitation will be prior to service beginning at 10 a.m. at the church. Innichement will follow at the City of Oxford Columbarium. Waller Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

 Jim was born near Collins but he spent most of his early years near Columbia where his family had inherited a farm.  As a boy, Jim loved the outdoor life that a farm afforded and he participated in 4-H Club, Future Farmers of America, and other farm organizations.  He became the national president of one of these organizations.

Jim decided at an early age that he wanted to become a medical doctor. After finishing high school in Columbia, where he served as president of the student body, he took his pre-med studies at Mississippi College from which he graduated with Special Distinction.  He graduated from medical school at Tulane University.  For his surgical training, he served at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) and at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.  He practiced oncological surgery in Jackson for 40 years.

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 Jim belonged to many medical organizations and was a diplomat of the American Board of Surgery.  He was honored by his fellow physicians who elected him Chief of Staff at Hinds General Hospital, Woman’s Hospital, and River Oaks Hospital in Jackson.


Aside from his medical practice, Jim had a lifelong interest in music.  He played flute in various amateur orchestras and enjoyed opera and classical music of all kinds.  His other main interest was medical libraries.  He served as President of the Friends of the Library at UMMC for several years and as chairman of the library’s fundraising committee for several years.  He also gave the largest gift the UMMC Library ever received.

 During his surgical residency, he married Doris Ann Moss and they had four children: Elizabeth, Christina, Jimmy, and John. This marriage ended in divorce.

 After several years, he met Markie Lindley at his church and they were married two years later.  They lived together happily until his death.

 At various times, Jim was a deacon at First Baptist Church in Jackson and a member of the board of directors of Unity Church of Jackson.  He attended the University Methodist Church in Oxford.  In additional to his traditional religious activities, he was also interested in Humanism and other similar philosophies which he felt were more in concert with critical thinking.

 His favorite scripture was Philippians 4:11: “For I have learned, in whatever state I am in, therewith to be content.”

 His favorite poem was “Invictus” by William Henley:

Out of the night that covers me,   
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,   

I thank whatever gods may be   
For my unconquerable soul.

  In the fell clutch of circumstance 
I have not winced nor cried aloud.   
Under the bludgeonings of chance   
My head is bloody, but unbowed.   

It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll,   
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Surviving him are his wife, Markie Lindley Spell; his three children, Elizabeth Beene (Michael) of Dallas, Texas, Christina Spell Kelley (Kent) of Evanston, Illinois, and Jimmy Spell (Elizabeth) of Madison, Mississippi; his grandchildren, Christopher Kelley, Lora Kelley and Anne Kelley; and his brother, David Spell (Marilyn) of Memphis, Tennessee.  He was preceded in death by his brother, Fred Spell and his son, John Spell.

 In lieu of flowers, Jim suggests that you purchase a good book for your school, your church or yourself.  Memorial contributions in Jim’s memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, 1380 Livingston Lane, Jackson, MS 39213.


For further information or to leave an online condolence, please call 662.234.7971 or visit