James Earl Meredith (Jim), 88, of Summerville, passed away Monday night at Redmond Regional Medical Center with his family at his side. A native of Greenville, Mississippi, he graduated from Mississippi State University with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineer and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Master’s in Business Administration.
During his education at Mississippi State University, Jim joined the US Air Force ROTC unit as a scholarship student. After graduation and his commissioning in 1952, Jim served as an engineer at the Air Force Armament Center, Air Research and Development Command, Eglin AFB, Florida. In the Air Force, he reached the rank of First Lieutenant before being honorably discharged in 1954.
Jim spent almost all his 46-year engineering career serving the carpet industry. After completing his service in the United States Air Force in 1954, he worked in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as an engineer with the Ethyl Chemical Corporation. The following year, he returned to his native Greenville, Mississippi, working as an engineer for Alexander Smith Carpets. In 1958, he made the long journey to Dillon, South Carolina, where he worked as an engineer for Mohasco Carpets until 1965. That’s the year Summerville’s OG Morehead connected him with Georgia Rug Mill. Jim became the Assistant Plant Engineer for Georgia Rug Mill in Summerville, a unit of Bigelow Sanford. Jim would stay with Bigelow Sanford for 30 years. During that tenure, he dedicated himself professionally to many carpet manufacturing developments, problem-solving, and especially to the many devoted employees who worked alongside him. Some of the accomplishments he was most proud of include: starting the Georgia Rug Mill Christmas tree water tower, constructing the Lyerly plant, patenting a unique carpet tufting process called DesignTec which over tufted patterns into the carpet, and finishing his career at Bigelow Sanford as Vice President of Manufacturing in Greenville, SC. In 1986, he went to work for a new, small carpet company called Image Carpets, owned by Summerville local Kelly Hudson. At first, Jim provided valuable engineering experience to help Image grow its carpet business. Then, he led the company in building a new PET bottle recycling / fiber extrusion plant in Summerville, which once again brought many long-term jobs to the citizens in the Summerville community. That effort continues today under the ownership of Mohawk Industries in a new, modernized form. Jim retired in 1998 and remained active in his community and church.
As a charter member of Horizon Baptist Fellowship, Jim served in many capacities, including Chairman of the building committee, Deacon, and Young Adult Sunday School Teacher. He was also a regular member of the choir; he played hand bells, and his design plans were realized in the building now standing at 1216 Highway 114.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Nannie Jane Cole Meredith and Thomas Jefferson Meredith, and his four brothers: Aubrey, Kenneth, William, and Thomas Jefferson (TJ). His deceased wife and mother of three of his children, Melba Janet Hughes Meredith, rests in Jackson, Mississippi.
He is survived by his wife, Marlyn Styles Meredith and his five children: Marilyn Meredith Teat (Ron), James Hughes Meredith (Stone), Paul Edward Meredith (Wanda), Mark Ford Hammond (Celeste), and John Eric Hammond (Donna). His 11 grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and his large extended family remember him his humor and his home as a place for gathering and Christian fellowship.
The family will receive friends at Earle Rainwater Funeral Home on Wednesday, 28 November, from 6 to 9 pm. The celebration of life service is Thursday at 11 am at Horizon Baptist Fellowship, and the family will begin receiving friends at 10 am. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Pregnancy Resource Center of Chattooga County, 142 Economy Street, Summerville, Georgia.