Jane Herring McLarty
Jane Herring McLarty, 92, passed away on Friday, June 20, 2020, at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford. She had proudly lived independently in her home and still drove her car until a brief heart-related illness.
Born in Pascagoula on August 24, 1927, Jane was the middle daughter of Hermine and William Bragg Herring. The Herrings were a long-standing banking family on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Life in this small, pre-World War II fishing village included playing with her two sisters, crabbing and swimming off the pier in front of their home and, as teenagers, sailing along the beach with her high school friends.
In the 1940s at Pascagoula High School, she played saxophone in the band and was the first female drum major in the school’s history. Jane and her mother went to New Orleans to have an appropriate uniform with a skirt made for the role. Often Jane led the band in a march from the school to Ingalls Shipbuilders to participate in the christening ceremonies of ships built during the war. Graduating a year early, Jane was the valedictorian of the Pascagoula High School Class of 1944.
Jane attended Sullins College in Bristol, Va., earning her associate degree, before arriving at the University of Mississippi in fall 1946. During formal sorority recruitment, Jane was one of nine girls who pledged to be charter members of the campus’ newest sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, of which she served as recording secretary. She graduated in spring 1948 with majors in English and psychology and minors in drama and French. Jane reigned as Queen Joy X of the 1947 Pascagoula-Moss Point Carnival Ball, and every year during Mardi Gras season she proudly flew her queen’s flag at her Oxford home.
When Jane came to Ole Miss, there was a campus housing shortage with G.I.s’s returning to college. Jane rented a room from Professor and Mrs. James W. Silver at Faculty House #6. At a dinner party there, Jane met the Silver’s family friend and doctor, Chester McLarty, who was back home in Oxford after serving as a medical officer in the Navy. Their courtship began and often included Jane’s studying at Faculty #6 and having a pot of coffee ready when Chester came by after house calls and late rounds at the hospital.
Jane and Chester married on August 14, 1948, and began their 65-year marriage in Oxford. While Chester was in solo medical practice, Jane was the devoted wife and mother of their three children, Bill, Martha, and Hermine. She was the children’s homeroom mother for their elementary classrooms. She was Bill’s Cub Scout Den Mother and later proudly pinned his Eagle Scout award on him in high school. For Martha and Hermine, she was Girl Scout leader extraordinaire, including helping lead Girl Scout trips to Jackson, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans. She decorated the house for every holiday on the calendar and set the table for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter dinner two weeks in advance so everything was perfect. She was so proud of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. For Jane, her family was everything.
Jane was a loyal alumna of Kappa Kappa Gamma, serving for years as an advisor and house board member. As a collegiate, she attended the groundbreaking of the first Kappa chapter house, and as an advisor, she oversaw many additions through the years. A year ago, she turned the first spade of dirt on the groundbreaking of the new Kappa Kappa Gamma chapter house and had excitedly watched its construction in the months since. The highlight of her Kappa experiences was initiating not only her daughter, Hermine, years ago, but also participating in the initiation of her granddaughter, Hermine, last November.
Entertaining and graciousness were Jane’s hallmark, and through the years she and Chester entertained friends in their home and around an exquisite dining table with elegant food and flowers prepared by Jane. Being a coast girl at heart, seafood was her specialty. When their good friends, Mayor John Leslie and author Willie Morris, had dignitaries and renowned writers visit, Jane and Chester hosted dinner parties for the visitors, receiving them with genuine Southern hospitality.
After Chester retired from medicine in 1983, he and Jane began traveling for more than 20 years throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean. They traveled to Campbeltown, Kintyre, Scotland, the ancestral home of the McLarty clan and enjoyed jazz cruises around the Caribbean and through the Panama Canal.
In their travels abroad, Jane and Chester saw statues honoring famous authors and poets in their local villages and countries and realized Oxford needed to honor its native son, William Faulkner, who was their friend and Chester’s patient. They were instrumental in raising the funds and commissioning the William Faulkner statue by Bill Beckwith, unveiled on the Courthouse Square on Faulkner’s 100th birthday in 1997. “Sitting on the bench with Mr. Bill” has become a favorite activity for children, locals, and visitors in the years since.
Gardening was Jane’s favorite hobby, and her yard was a showcase. Her love of camellias is seen in the dozens of camellias in her backyard, some 50-year-old trees. Birds flock to her numerous feeders and bluebirds build nests. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren delight in following her “Yellow Brick Road” to the goldfish pond to feed the fish. After Chester’s death in 2013, her yard additionally became a source of comfort. In recent years she has been growing an orchard of persimmons, peaches, and Meyer lemons. Her summer tomatoes are ripening on the vine right now.
A life-long Methodist, Mrs. McLarty was a member of Oxford-University United Methodist Church.
Mrs. McLarty is survived by her daughters, Dr. Martha Jane McLarty, of Oxford and Hermine McLarty Granberry, and son-in-law, William Senton Granberry, Jr., of Hattiesburg; and daughter-in-law, Margaret Peters McLarty, of Jackson. Also, surviving are grandchildren, The Rev. William Andrew McLarty, Jr., and wife Emily, of Brookhaven; Nathan Peters McLarty, and wife, Stephanie, of McLean, Va., Jackson Harris McLarty, and wife, Allie, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Hermine Herring Granberry, Clara Jane Granberry, and William Senton Granberry, III, of Hattiesburg; and great-grandchildren, Adeline Jane McLarty, of McLean, and Waverly Ann McLarty of Brookhaven. She is also survived by her sisters, Hermine Herring Braden, of Houston, Texas and Billie Bragg Herring Wadlington, of Oxford, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Mrs. McLarty was predeceased by her parents, her husband, and her son, William Andrew McLarty.
A private family service was held at Oxford-University United Methodist Church on Monday, June 22, 2020 with Rev. Warren Black and Rev. Eddie Rester officiating. Serving as Mrs. McLarty’s pallbearers were grandsons, Andrew McLarty, Jack McLarty, and Senton Granberry; son-in-law, Bill Granberry, and cousin, Dr. Keith Mansel. Interment followed at Oxford Memorial Cemetery. Waller Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Oxford-University United Methodist Church, 424 south 10th Street, Oxford, MS 38655 or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
For additional information or to leave an online condolence, please call 662-234-7971 or visit www.wallerfuneralhome.com.