8.26.20 obituaries



Al Szoke

Jesup—Al Szoke, 73, of Jesup died Aug. 19, 2020.

The Wayne County native was a member of Jesup First Baptist Church and served as Wayne County Tax Commissioner for 33 years. He enjoyed anything outdoors, following his children’s sporting events and all activities for his grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his parents, Steve and Jimmie Lee Brannen Szoke.

Survivors include his wife, Irene Szoke of Jesup; a daughter, Allison “Nan” (Kevin) Phillips of Fitzgerald; twin sons, Nathan Steven (Shannon) of Atlanta and John Clay (Taylor) Szoke of Watkinsville; four grandchildren, Olivia and Kate Phillips, Sutton and Jax Szoke; and several aunts and uncles.

Graveside funeral services were held Aug. 21 at Pinecrest Memorial Cemetery with the Rev. Stanley Todd officiating.

The family received friends at the cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Animal Refuge Foundation “ARF”, P.O. Box 432, Jesup, GA 31598.

Rinehart and Sons Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.


Freddie “Fred”  G. Hodge

Fayetteville—Freddie “Fred” G. Hodge, 84, of Fayetteville and longtime resident of Jesup died Aug. 21, 2020.

The Screven native was a member of First Baptist Church in Snellville. He retired as a Southeast regional service manager with Foxboro Industrial Automation out of Atlanta. In his early life, he was known working many years as chief engineer and announced many football games and events for Jesup Broadcasting (WLOP).

He was predeceased by his wife, Marlene Ginn Hodge; parents, Mattie and David Martin Hodge; and siblings, Delmar, Gracie and Joe Hodge.

Survivors include sons, Chuck (Tesa) Hodge of Auburn, Alabama and Art (Melissa) Hodge of Brunswick; daughters, Shannon (Keith) Turner of Fayetteville and Pam Hodge of Jesup; a sister, Johnnie (Calvin) Hayes of Jesup; and eight grandchildren.

Graveside funeral services were held Aug. 24 in Pinecrest Memorial Cemetery with David Hodge officiating.

Rinehart and Sons Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.


Priscilla “Prissy” Burgess Blount

Jesup—Priscilla “Prissy” Burgess Blount, 68, of Jesup died Aug. 23, 2020.

The Marietta native had lived in Wayne County the past 40 years. She was a member of Jesup First Baptist Church and a homemaker.

Survivors include her husband of 50 years, Arthur H. Blount Jr. of Jesup; a son, Artie Blount of Jesup; a brother, Tim Burgess of Alpharetta; a sister, Shirley (David) Payne of Canton; and several nieces and nephews.

Graveside funeral services and celebration of life will be held today (Wednesday) at 11 a.m. in Liberty Cemetery with Pastor Mike VonMoss officiating.

The family will receive friends at the cemetery.

Rinehart and Sons Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.



William Tell Highsmith

Jesup—William Tell Highsmith, 89, of Jesup, Georgia, died July 19, 2020, 13 days before his 90th birthday.

Two weeks prior to his death, he was riding his Honda motorcycle to run errands in town. The Brantley County native moved to Jesup in 2000. His stock answer, when asked how he was doing, was “truly wonderful,” and that nickname followed him on many of the name-tags he wore during his very full life. 

Mr. Bill,  also known as “The Balloon Man,” was born Aug. 1, 1930, to Isaac Edmond and Sarah Elizabeth Aldridge Highsmith. His mother had to sign for him to enlist in the Air Force, as he was only 17 years old. During his military career, his duty stations included bases in Massachusetts, Texas, California, Germany and Mississippi. He retired from active duty in 1970 and settled his family in Irving, Texas. 

He loved square dancing, a hobby he took up in the mid 1970s. In addition to square-dancing across the continental United States and in Australia and England, he was a member of a “Clowning Squares” group in Dallas, marching in parades and other celebrations. Clowning Squares encouraged his talent of tying balloon animals, and after his move to Jesup, he continued to entertain and delight children with balloon animals, swords and other creations. The Altamaha Wildlife Association and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Altamaha were frequent recipients of his time (and oxygen)! The last two balloons he tied were swords for Jackson and Greyson Thomaston of Jesup.

Mr. Bill loved traveling and camping almost as much as he loved square dancing, and it didn’t seem to matter whether it was just down the road in Florida or all the way west. He once drove from Jesup to the Arctic Circle on a six-week odyssey. Frequent travels to Bandera, Texas, allowed him time with his Texas family and friends, and he managed to find a square dance any time he was in Dallas. Unity Singles was always one of his stops.

He and and his son, David, ventured far from home on more than one occasion.  Their travels included Singapore and Bali (with a stop in Russia on the way) and Spain and Morocco. Elephant ride photo furnished on request. In February 2010, he and his children visited Central America on a week-long cruise—he and his daughter, Sandra, parasailed, and there was at least one photo taken as proof he actually gambled at the ship’s casino (wearing a Hawaiian shirt, of course). 

Mr. Bill was predeceased by his parents, Isaac E. and Elizabeth Highsmith; his 14 siblings; the mother of his children, Saralee Highsmith Howard; and his son-in-law, Dr. Ross Goehring.

Survivors include his daughter, Susan Goehring, of Jesup; daughter Sandra (Donald) Barley of Brady, Texas; a son, David Highsmith of Dallas, Texas; a granddaughter, Jordan Barley (Robert Lilljedahl) of Houston, Texas; and a grandson, William Trent Barley of Brady, Texas. 

Burial will be private when appropriate for out-of-town family members to attend. Memorials to  Fair Haven Protective Agency, or Boys & Girls Clubs of the Altamaha Area, or the donor’s choice of charities will be appreciated.

Family and friends may sign the guestbook online at www.jesupfuneralhome.com.

Howard & Jones Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.