John Morell Sumner, Sr

Published 8:53 am Thursday, January 20, 2022


John Morell Sumner, Sr. died Monday, January 10, 2022, in Oxford, Mississippi. ‘Nat’, as he was known by many, was born February 13, 1937, in Long Beach, California. He lived in Stewart, Mississippi, through the second grade before moving with his family to Winona, Mississippi, where he graduated from high school. From there he went to the University of Mississippi, obtaining his undergraduate degree. He was privileged to serve his country in the United States Air Force from 1959-1962, his love of country unwavering until his death. Nat returned to his beloved University of Mississippi to obtain a law degree, and while there he met the woman who would become his wife, Mary Neal Hall of Canton. They settled in Winona, where Nat practiced law, and they raised their three children, before moving to Oxford in 2013. A man of deep humility and abundant generosity, Mr. Sumner served his church, his family, and his community well. He preferred anonymity over recognition, but particularly dear to him were his opportunities for service as a Deacon and an Elder at the First Presbyterian Church in Winona, as a Board Member at French Camp Academy, and as the attorney for the E. H. Sumners Foundation. He also enjoyed his time on the Board of Directors for both the University of Mississippi Alumni Association and the University of Mississippi Foundation.

Mr. Sumner was preceded in death by his parents, James Carliss Sumner, Sr. and Margaret Elizabeth Morell Sumner. He is survived by his wife, Neal, their children, John Morell Sumner, Jr. (Leigh), Susan Sumner Fortenberry (Frank), and Harry Hall Sumner, Sr. (Trice); his grandchildren, Shelby Sumner Dye (Gary), Bryan Morell Sumner, Rankin Sumner Fortenberry, Walker O’Neal Fortenberry, Niland Sumners Fortenberry, Wesley Warriner Sumner, and Harry Hall Sumner, Jr.; his brother, James Carliss Sumner, Jr. (Ward), and many wonderful nieces and nephews.

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Visitation for Mr. Sumner was on Friday, January 14, 2022 at the First Presbyterian Church of Winona, Mississippi, from 1:00 PM-2:30 PM. The Service was followed at 2:30 PM. Rev. Andy Coburn and Rev. Lance Ragsdale will officiate the service. A graveside service with military honors was held at Oakwood Cemetery in Winona, Mississippi. Memorials may be made to The First Presbyterian Church of Winona, Mississippi, French Camp Academy, or the charity of your choice.

Oliver Funeral Home of Winona is in charge of arrangements. An online guestbook may be signed at