Dr. Bobby Hugh Papasan

Published 9:39 am Thursday, October 19, 2023

Dr. Bobby Hugh Papasan, 84, of Tunica, passed away peacefully at home on October 6, 2023. Bobby was born December 12, 1938, in Pinedale, MS to Robert Wayne Papasan and Mavour Ruth Gafford Papasan.

Bobby was an honor graduate of Pinedale High School in 1957 where he was a star basketball player. He continued his education at Wood Junior College on a basketball scholarship and graduated with an Associate’s degree in 1958. He then transferred to Mississippi State University earning a Bachelor degree in Mathematics in 1961 and a Masters of Education in Mathematics in 1964. He completed his formal education by earning a Doctor of Educational Administration degree from the University of Mississippi in 1982. His dissertation, A History of Sixteenth Section Lieu Lands in the Chickasaw Territories of Mississippi, would prove to be extremely important in litigation which culminated at the United States Supreme Court.

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Bobby began his educational career as a mathematics teacher in Cobb County, Georgia and New Albany, Mississippi. He and Ann moved to Tunica, MS in 1963, where he served as a math teacher and Assistant Principal at Tunica County High School. In 1967, he became Principal of Tunica County High School. He remained in that role until he became Superintendent of the Tunica County Public Schools in 1970. He served as Superintendent from 1970-1988.

Dr. Papasan’s career in education spanned four decades. His professional experiences and honors are too numerous to mention, but one particular endeavor significantly impacted educational opportunities in North Mississippi counties. The issue was a severe funding disparity impacting Tunica County and 23 other counties in the State of Mississippi. Bobby’s research and leadership led an effort that resulted in a Federal lawsuit against the State of Mississippi. The lawsuit went to the United States Supreme Court, and was settled in favor of the twenty-four North Mississippi counties. That settlement has and will continue to provide much needed resources for public education. Bobby served as a member of the Northwest Community College Board of Trustees from 1979-1986. The Papasan Family created an endowment scholarship which continues to provide money to incoming freshmen. Dr. Papasan was a founding member of the North Mississippi Education Consortium, a multi-million dollar collaboration to give teachers access to quality professional development, another way that Bobby’s legacy continues to serve the students and teachers of Mississippi.
The Doc, as he was affectionately known, married Vivian Ann McGarrah on December 12, 1962. Little did he know that taking that beautiful, dimpled cheerleader to the fair would lead to a wonderful 60-year marriage, two loving children, four grandchildren, and one great-grand. Bobby served the town of Tunica in a variety of roles. He was a member of the Tunica United Methodist Church, Tunica Volunteer Fire Department, Tunica Rotary Club, and Robert Andrews Lodge. In their 60 years together, Bobby and Ann enjoyed traveling the world with family and friends.

Bobby’s interests outside of education were wide ranging and varied. Pap, another endearing nickname, was an avid outdoorsman with a love for hunting, fishing, gathering mushrooms and observing the wonders of God’s creation. He had a particular love for duck and turkey hunting and spent many mornings watching the sunrise over the Mississippi Delta while listening for a gobbler or calling a duck. His love of racing began with his acquisition of a dirt track stock car. Bobby took his family to the dirt track creating fond memories for his children while following “Pap’s Racing.” This love of racing continued with many trips to Nascar races.

Doc was an avid collector. He was interested in anything old and rusty, but his main interest was in watches and clocks. He and Ann traveled all across the southeast to clock shows. He was the proud owner of Dunn’s Jewelry on Tunica’s Main Street from 1985 until his passing. The store was connected to AnnTiques so that he could be close to his beloved wife. Dunn’s Jewelry was a gathering place where you could get your watch repaired, admire dozens of old clocks, meet friends, catch up on local news, solve the world’s problems, watch Ann crack pecans, examine Indian artifacts, and question Bobby about anything and everything.

You could always find Bobby and Ann sitting in their rocking chairs in the front of their stores, enjoying time together and their many friends that stopped by daily.

Papa P is survived by two children, Jeff Papasan (Rhonda) of Tunica, MS, LeAnn Flowers (Mattson) of Clarksdale, MS; four grandchildren, Emmie Shing (Devyn), Gregory Flowers, Zachary Flowers, and Ann Gray Flowers Hardy (William); one great grandchild, Rowan Shing; one sibling, Ruth Ann Stroud of Myrtle, MS; and one special aunt, June Jumper of Etta, MS. He is preceded in death by his loving wife, Ann Papasan,; his brother, Larry Papasan,; his uncle, Gerald Gafford.

Visitation was held on Monday, 9th of October, 2023, at the Tunica United Methodist Church Family Life Center at 10:00 am. A Celebration of Life was followed at 11:00 am in the chapel. Burial was followed at Oakridge Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Tunica United Methodist Church or Tunica Academy. Meredith-Nowell Funeral Home in Clarksdale, MS is handling the arrangements.