Obituary – Dr. James W. Mann

Published 12:42 pm Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Dr. James W. Mann, Director Emeritus of the Research and Training Center of the Handicapped and Professor Emeritus in Special Education at the University of Mississippi, died Friday, Jan 3, 2020. 

Dr. Mann received a B.S. degree in philosophy and psychology and a M.A. degree in curriculum and instruction and guidance and counseling from the University of Memphis. He finished additional post masters studies in special education at Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Later, he earned his Ph.D. in special education and rehabilitation psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. After completing his education, Dr. Mann became a professor at the University of Mississippi in January 1965. He retired from Ole Miss after 34 years of service.

 Visitation will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2020, in West Hall at Waller Funeral Home in Oxford with the funeral service beginning at 1 p.m. in Chapel of Waller Funeral Home with Rev. J.D. Shaw officiating.  Burial will follow in Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

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 Jimmy, as he was known, was married to Kitty Mann, a former teacher at Oxford Elementary School. The couple had two children: Mary Mann Austin (Jim), a senior physical therapist in Jackson, Miss., and Michael Mann (Krista), a professor and assistant chair of the Department of Psychology and Counseling at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss. He has two grandchildren, Elizabeth Grace Mann and David Patrick Mann. He is also survived by his sister Marian Miller of Collierville, Tenn., and Jerry Mann, of Johnston City, Ill.

 If the creation and location of the North Mississippi Regional Center were to be attributed to one person, it would be James Mann. In 1967, 500 copies of a proposal prepared by Dr. Mann were sent to all of the members of the Mississippi State Legislature. As a result, a $500,000 appropriations bill was passed for the facility that would later be known as the North Mississippi Regional Center. Dr. Mann’s persuasive efforts ensured that Oxford would be chosen as the site for this new center.

 In 1973, Dr. Mann was appointed to the chairmanship of the Congressional Education and Rehabilitation Advisory Committee authorized by the Veterans Benefits Act. This committee, under his leadership, consulted with the Veterans Affairs Director (Max Cleland of Georgia at the time), the VA administration, and the U.S. Congress making recommendations and issuing reports for the improvement of services to veterans and their families. He served as chairman for four years. From 1977 to 1980, Dr. Mann also served as a director of the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.

 The North Mississippi Regional Center is only one of many projects on which Dr. Mann has worked on. He was commissioned by Governor Bill Waller to develop a statewide plan for Mississippi to improve services for adults, youth, and children with disabilities. He has written more than 100 research and training grants for the University of Mississippi and conducted numerous workshops and conferences on special education at the state, regional, and national level. Dr. Mann has been recognized as an outstanding educator by his peers and students. Kappa Delta Pi, an honor society in the School of Education at Ole Miss, awarded him the outstanding faculty award in 1972. From 1976 to 1982, Dr. Mann served as the chair of the Board of Trustees for the Schools of the Blind and Deaf in Jackson, Miss. In 1983, he was named Citizen of the Year for Oxford. In 1995, a group home, the Dr. James W. Mann Haven Home, was dedicated in Hernando, Miss., in his honor.

 He worshiped at the Oxford-University Methodist Church for over 50 years where he was a member. In later years, he also worshiped at Grace Bible Church in Oxford.

 A very special thanks goes to 1) Dr. Michael Dupper, a special friend for all of his many kindnesses through the years, 2) Dr. Jackie Turner and his staff, 3) Dr. Land Renfroe and Michelle Barbie, NP-C of Urology and Associates, and 4) Kindred Home Health and Hospice Care for all of their outstanding care, attentive spirit, and sincere compassion toward Jimmy in the last few weeks.

 Jimmy had a big heart for those who were the most vulnerable in society and in lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that memorials be made to: Interfaith Compassion Fund, 1918 East University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655,  Alzheimer’s Association, Mississippi Chapter, 207 W. Jackson St. #1, Ridgeland, MS 39157 or a charity of your choice.

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