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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Incredible Honor

Thursday, March 14, 2013

William Howard Pritchartt, Jr. R.I.P.

William Howard Pritchartt, Jr., 86, died March 5, at 1 a.m. at Natchez Community Hospital after a brief illness.

Mr. Pritchartt was born April 14, 1926, at the Natchez Sanitorium and attended Natchez Schools.

At the age of 18, Pritchartt volunteered to join the army during World War II, where he served in intelligence and reconnaissance.  He traveled to Europe on the Queen Mary and had many memories of his exploits overseas. 

Pritchartt was an entrepreneur.  Although he studied at the University of Mississippi, at Washington & Lee and at Amherst in preparation for his appointment at West Point, he left early to begin his career as a realtor and developer.  With partners and friends Paul Green, George Guido, and Waldo Lambdin, he developed several subdivisions, including Broadmoor and Pineview Subdivisions, and the Trees.  He also was involved in the development of Woodhaven next to Trinity Episcopal School and La Grange Subdivision near Liberty Road.

Pritchartt was instrumental in creating Trinity Episcopal School, visiting schools all across the country to learn about how to build a proper educational institution.  He also donated the land and built the main building on Highway 61 South.

Pritchartt’s life was defined not only by his children but his love of the outdoors and, in particular, of the Mississippi River, where he spent his youth with friends rowing the river, camping on sandbars, hunting, fishing and enjoying all that nature had to offer.  His love of the river was inspired by his father, who often took him and his friends on expeditions up and down the river.

His other great love was for his children with whom he spent nearly every weekend on the river in a cabin he built for that purpose.  With them, he showed them the outdoor life: fishing, swimming, hunting, boating, and riding horses through the woods – an opportunity few children shared.  He shared with them his time, his attention and his help, both emotionally and financially. 

He will always be remembered for his kindness in mentoring other businessmen and entrepreneurs and his overwhelming love and concern for other creatures.  Throughout his life he had numerous pets – cats, dogs, and chickens, and fed and protected the wild creatures that lived on his property near Kingston Road. 

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Army Humor

My father, Howard Pritchartt, Jr., volunteered for the army when he was 18 years old.  He was in intelligence and reconnaissance in France and Germany.  In preparation for his service, he was sent to Amherst, Massachussetts, where he made a name for himself as somewhat of a prankster.

He began drawing cartoons of the officers there and posting them secretly at night when no one was around, raising the ire of those portrayed.  I think he was pretty darned good and may have missed his calling as a cartoonist.

This is the only one not done at Amherst.  On the back it reads, "Europe Jan 45 - Aug 46

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Man in Full

My father died on March 5.  I invited my old friend Brent Bourland to give the eulogy.  He'd known him for years, and seemed to have an innate understanding of my father's personality and character.  They both seemed to share the same joy of life, love of the outdoors and grabbing life by the horns and enjoying the ride.  And they both seem ageless, youth refusing to leave them be.  This is the eulogy Brent gave, which was beautiful, heartfelt and eloquent.  Thank you, Brent.

A MAN IN FULL, Howard Pritchartt was A MAN IN FULL.

As I look around, almost everyone in this room has had the good fortune to be a part of Natchez and its rich past and continuing history.  But very few of us have had the great fortune to be the ultimate insider and also a dedicated and stubborn outsider.  Howard Pritchartt chose that course.  You could say that Howard was born a Natchez blueblood with Mississippi river mud in his soul. 

Having been born into one of the "oldest" families in Natchez, Howard, as a boy, was welcome walking into the back door of Stanton Hall and then getting out of there as fast as he could to go look for adventure in the mud on the banks of his great friend the River.

Howard was comfortable with the powerful of Natchez, whom he loved to skewer with relish at every opportunity but he was really in his World with his many friends Under the Hill, like Joe Remondet and Steve Stevens, as well as George Guido, Johnny Ogden, Lucius Butts, Neville Marshall and a host of others I can’t recall off the top of my head. .................... 

Howard kept his beloved boats tied to Steve's makeshift barge Under the Hill with its walkway made of old boards, oil drums and cables.  How it stayed afloat and tied to the willow trees along the bank we'll never understand.   Howard would grab Joe and Steve and any other handy river rat and head out for a day on the river, a bunch of overgrown Huck Finns, just glad to be alive.  Howard was always alive, very, very alive.  You could also count on a big fish fry of river blue cats when they got back.  Life was good for Howard and his many friends, Howard made sure of that. Howard shared.

I can still see Howard walking in the unlocked back door to the President's Office of City Bank and Trust Company.  Ethel would shout, "Leslie, Howard's here", (that was the intercom of the day) and Leslie Carpenter would shout, "Well, tell him to come on back", of course by that time Howard was already sitting down in front of the desk.  Five minutes later a financial transaction would be struck on a handshake and paper work might or might not be done later.  These were men of character, along with many others of their day, and they knew each other and they knew that they were good for their word.

Howard shared. Few people knew all the many quiet kindnesses that Howard made happen.  If a man needed a handy job to feed his kids, Howard seemed to find one for him.  If someone was behind on her rent, well, somehow it just got taken care of.  If a kid needed a little help getting through school, Howard had a way of making that happen, most of the time without them ever knowing who or how.  Howard Shared.

Howard was a protector and he could be fierce and he could intimidate when he needed to.  Just try being a young man trying to get anywhere near one of his two daughters.  I’m surprised either one of them ever got a date before they were 25 years old. 

My first real memory of Howard was going to pick Elodie up at her house on Linton Avenue to take her to the King’s Ball.  It was about dusk but Howard was in the yard watering the lawn, he didn’t speak when I walked by.  When Elodie and I came back down the sidewalk, long dress and tux, Howard causally turned the water hose on us and made his feelings clearly known.  That is my daughter and you watch it boy. (You might also add he laughed his ass off as he did it while we fumed)  It was clear, Howard Pritchartt was not a man to be crossed.  Howard would do whatever it took to protect what he loved most, his family.

A few years later on a hot, steamy summer day, a bunch of us were over at Howard’s place on old river.  I wasn’t sure Howard was very pleased to have me there.  After a while Howard said he needed help with a fishtrap out in the river and asked me to go out and check it.  It was about 100 feet off the bank in about 4 feet of muddy water.  I wasn’t crazy about the idea but it really wasn’t a request; it was more of an order.  It was a test and we both knew it.  Howard wanted to know what kind of a man you were.  He already knew what kind he was.  So out I went deeper and deeper over my waist.  I got to the trap and got a grip on the big homemade fishtrap and lifted up out of the water to eye level.  I was face to face with the biggest snake on the entire Mississippi river.   It was just a water snake, and drowned, but big as an anaconda, especially face to face.  Howard knew it was in there.  I flunked the hell out of that test.  You might say Howard and I had a little rocky start.  But I think I really learned how to swim really fast that day. 

Howard loved and pursued life with a passion, a fierce passion.  Howard was fit and he made sure he stayed that way because that gave him the physical presence to pursue all of his life's many passions.  When most men in their 60s, 70s or even 80s are taking it easy, winding down, looking for a rocking chair, not Howard. You were likely to find him on his side porch, drenched in sweat, on his Olympic bench press lifting more weights than a man in his twenties.  Howard hated old age and he fought it.  He fought it fiercely.  No man will ever win that fight and Howard knew that but it didn’t keep him from fighting it at every turn.  And he damn near won.  After all Howard Pritchartt was A MAN IN FULL.  

Delivered March 9, 2013 at the funeral of William Howard Pritchartt, Jr. by Brent Bourland.