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Over the past several years I have written articles about many men and women that have had profound influence on the City of Mansfield and on DeSoto Parish. They should all be remembered but none would, in the opinion of this writer, be more deserving than Dr. George A. Ritchey.

Dr. Ritchey was born in Enterprise, Ms. and later attended Pearl River Com. College in Poplarville, Ms. where he lettered in football, baseball, basketball and track. He was converted while a student there in 1926. He later attended Mississippi College in Clinton, Ms. where he played football and pastored two churches in Duncan and Friar’s Point, Ms. He continued his education in the ministry at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. And graduated from there with a Masters of Theology degree in 1933. He earned a Doctors of Philosophy degree in 1935 while a student at Louisville, Ky. and was a pastor of a church in Paragon, Indiana.

After Seminary Dr. Ritchey was called to pastor the First Baptist Church at Lafayette, Indiana. While there he was selected to serve on the Executive Board of the Indiana Baptist Convention and preached the annual convention sermon. For 4 years he was away from the pastorship and traveled for the Southern Seminary recruiting young prospective preachers. While representing the Seminary at Arkadelphia College in Arkansas he was immediately attracted to the college beauty queen named Jonnie Stiles and they married in 1935. Two children were born of this union – George W. in 1936 and Helen in 1937. He, also, served at the same time as Chaplin for 5 years for the 113th Regiment of the Indiana National Guard with the rank of Lt. Colonel. He went into the service of the Air Corp serving in India, Burma and China flying the “Tibet Hump” and was featured in the Sept. 14, 1942 cover of Life magazine.

 

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