James Milton Pursell
Pursell James Milton Pursell passed away Dec. 4, 2022, at 94. Pursell was born Dec. 19, 1927, in Mexia, to Lester Pursell and Willie Smith.
He grew up with his sisters, Louise Baldwin and Mildred Echols, and he was raised by his grandparents, John Wilbur and Musie Gilliam Pursell, on a farm near Ola.
Pursell was very proud of his service to our country and community. At 16, James tried to join the Army but was unable due to his age. He instead joined the Merchant Marines and served until the end of World War II. Following the war, he joined the Army, where he served until his discharge in 1952, at the end of the Korean Conflict.
Upon his discharge from the military, James worked for the City of Houston water department as a meter reader. He rose through the ranks of the water department, becoming the executive director of field services. Around this time, he returned to school to receive his high school equivalent and enrolled in the University of Houston, where he earned his Peace Officer Certification. He served as a reserve deputy constable for Harris County for many years.
Upon his retirement from the Water Department in 1978, James moved the family to Wortham, where he worked for the Wortham Housing Authority. He was the Wortham Chief of Police from the late 70s until the early 90s.
He married the love of his life, Nancy Dale Magness, in August 1954 at Oakwood Methodist Church in Houston. They were blessed with 68 years together. Family was extremely important to him. He was always involved in his kids’ activities as they were growing up and enjoyed watching his grandkids’ sporting events after they came along.
He loved to hunt and fish in his free time, especially with his son at Chandeleur Islands, off the coast of Mississippi. He loved to travel to New York and Boston, but his favorite was Lake Tahoe. He enjoyed having a vegetable garden and later in life liked taking rides in his old Ford pickup truck. Most of all, he was happy sitting on the front porch, waving at all the passers-by, including the train engineers.
Pursell was a kind man who cared deeply for his friends and family. He mentored several youths in the community as he served as the Police Chief. He was an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Wortham and a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was in the Sheriff’s Association for many years.
He leaves behind his beloved wife, Nancy Pursell; his son, James Milton Pursell Jr. and his wife Jill from Glenwood Springs, Colo.; his daughter, Brenda Chaney and her husband Jeff of Wortham; his daughter, Linda Thrasher and her husband Jim of Gig Harbor, Wash.; seven grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one great-greatgrandchild; his sister-inlaw, Hudene Smith; and his niece, Patricia Edge.
He was preceded in death by his parents, two sisters and his grandson Jeffrey Chaney.
Honorary pallbearers are James Milton Pursell III, Jared Michael Pursell, Jacob Matthew Pursell, Justin Lee Chaney, and Hayden Allen James Chaney. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to hospice of Waco.
Memorial Services for James will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at the United Methodist Church of Wortham.