|Jesse Pierce McKeithen was born July 28, 1915 in Grayson, Louisiana and moved to his heavenly abode September 11, 2000. He was the fifth child of William Ocee and Lois Pierce McKeithen, with four older sisters and one younger brother. His early education was in the elementary and secondary schools of Grayson with a strong religious background at home and in the local Methodist Protestant Church.
Because of illnesses, accidents and a death in the family, he worked with his father two years before entering Westminster College in Tehuacana, Texas in 1934 to begin training for the ministry.
Jesse Pierce had been known as “Bud” by his relatives and friends of long standing. In the late summer of 1936, Bud and his cousin John McKeithen left Louisiana to hitchhike to High Point College in North Carolina. Bud was a junior and John a freshman. There they were to become known as J. P. and J. J. J. P. completed his BA degree in 12 months at High Point and was ready to proceed to Westminster Theological Seminary in Maryland.
J. P. married Zona Milburn from Tehuacana before he left North Carolina, but she remained in Texas until the following summer. When J. P. finished his last exam in August, he and Zona boarded the midnight train for Maryland. Immediately upon their arrival at the seminary, they were shown their parsonage home, bought a car, and were introduced to three churches he was to serve as pastor, with a total monthly salary of $50.00. He served these churches while pursuing his Master of Divinity degree.
In 1940 they returned to Louisiana. His first pastorate was the Grand Cane Charge (five churches, during which time he began the organization of the Summer Grove Church), followed by appointments at Haughton-Doyline, Mangham Charge, Mapelwood (including its organization), Newellton, Cotton Valley, Summer Grove, Ferriday and Clayton, and McGuire. In New Orleans he served Algiers, Gentilly and Carrollton. After he retired in 1976, he served Grayson and Kelly, retired, served Union and Baskin, retired again and then worked as Minister of Visitation at First UMC, Monroe for two years. His fourth and final retirement was in 1994.
His son, William Pierce was born during his first appointment and his daughter, Elaine, five years later. Elaine and her husband, John Croft, live in Plano, Texas. They have two sons and two granddaughters. Zona, his wife of 53 years, died in 1989.
At a Westminster College reunion, he renewed acquaintance with Ruby Coldwell Nicholson, who had lived in California since 1938. Ruby’s husband of 46 years died in 1988. In 1993, J. P. married Ruby and acquired two stepchildren, one step-grandchild, and six sisters-in-law and their families.
In 1994, J. P. completed his D.Min at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson. Last June he attended his 65th consecutive Annual Conference. He remained active until his last day.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference, p. 258|