James Lester Hathcock, 89
Funeral services for James Lester Hathcock, 89, of Joplin, formerly of Ozark County, were held June 30, 2020, at Clinkingbeard Funeral Home in Gainesville. After several weeks of declining health, Mr. Hathcock died June 26 in Joplin with his beloved granddaughter Alison Pendergrass by his side.
He was born June 8, 1931, in Sycamore, the son of Lester and Celestia Luna Hathcock. The oldest of two children, he completed the first eight grades in the one-room Luna School. He didn’t have the opportunity for additional formal education, but it never hindered him. His work ethic and desire to take care of his family led him into bridge construction, where he moved up the ranks from laborer to supervisor with, as he would say, “only an eighth-grade education.” He was respected and adored by the men and women who worked with him. He prided himself on the fact that he worked alongside his crew, never asking them to do anything he wasn’t willing to do himself.
In March 1949, he married Francelene Cockrum.
Prior to working construction, Mr. Hathcock served in the Army from Feb. 2, 1953, until Feb. 3, 1955. He was stationed in Japan and achieved the rank of corporal. At the end of his tour, he returned to Missouri and his wife, Francelene. Together they raised a daughter, Sharolette Cockrum Pendergrass.
After Francelene’s death in April 1992, he married Dorothy Huff in March 1993.
Mr. Hathcock enjoyed life. He loved to read, listen to music, ride motorcycles, fish, hunt and play bingo and checkers while spinning tall tales. Like clockwork, he would call his sister Velma and son-in-law Scott several times a day to chat over the day’s events or to reminisce about old times while drinking coffee and eating Rice Krispie Treats.
He is survived by his sister, Velma Strong of Gainesville; daughter Sharolette Pendergrass and husband Scott of Oronogo, Missouri; granddaughter Alison Pendergrass and husband Bill Enoch of Webb City; and great-granddaughter Lorene Pendergrass.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife, Francelene; and his second wife, Dorothy.
Burial of Mr. Hathcock’s remains will be at Smith Chapel Cemetery at a later date.
Clinkingbeard Funeral Home, Gainesville, directors.