Our world has lost a kind and gentle soul. On March 15, 2017, Robert Howard Bishop Sr. of 401 Jacksonville Hwy, Fitzgerald, Ga. passed away. Like the life he led here, he entered gently into his Heavenly home.
Funeral services will be held 2 PM, Saturday, March 18, 2017, at Pine Level Methodist Church with Dr. Dan Williamson officiating. Rev. Adam Bishop will deliver the eulogy. Interment will follow in the church cemetery with Rev. Jason Britt officiating. The family will receive friends from 4:30 until 6:30 Friday evening at the funeral home in Fitzgerald.
Howard was born December 9, 1926 at the family home of Dave and Effie Bishop in Ben Hill County. He was one of eight children who enjoyed growing and working on the family farm. The Bishop children and grandchildren can recall spending many happy times on the Bishop farm. Howard became known as the uncle who would always find time to play with the children, finding adventurous ways to spend a Sunday afternoon whether building a tree house, teaching the kids how to “drive a nail”, or running through the open fields in the dark of night to light the firecrackers on a 4th of July! A kid at heart himself, he loved piling the grandchildren onto dune buggies for a thrilling ride down country dirt roads and in his later years, he was even spotted riding his orange flamed Harley Davidson on winding roads with a friend.
Friends and family describe Howard as “a good and simple man”,- one who taught them a lot- whether it was to be honest, dependable and trustworthy, to build a good work ethic, to enjoy life, to be a good person and friend, or even to pull a good prank! All who knew him well knew of his unconditional love for all he met, his selfless nature, and his adventuresome spirit. He was a father to many who needed him. He was a spiritual man and his strong faith in God led many to choose a better life. In his last days, many would ask what they could do for him; all he would ask was for their kind words. If Howard enjoyed anything, it was truly a “gift for gab”! He loved telling stories of past events with his friends and we loved listening to the joy in his voice.
Howard’s siblings who still survive and whom he loved are Quentin Bishop of Fitzgerald and Jube Bishop Tucker of Albany. His siblings who preceded him in death were J.D. Bishop, Jr., Marguerite Bishop Young, Dennis Bishop, Dosh Bishop and Esther Bishop Williams.
After attending Ashton and Fitzgerald High School, Howard was called to military duty in the maritime service. He joined the Merchant Marines in March 1945, served aboard several ships as Jr. engineer and delivered food and supplies to the soldiers during World War II. He often told stories of the many ports he was able to travel and see.
After the war, Howard returned home and married his high school sweetheart, Joyce Minshew. Some of Howard’s older friends will recall when he and Joyce opened Bishop Grocery on the corner of Central Ave. and Monitor Dr. Here, cokes were then pulled from the “Coke ice box” and purchased for 5 cents and oatmeal came with a bronze coffee mug as a surprise in the box. Howard was often found cutting beef with his friend, Joe Fletcher, in the back while customers entered the front, grabbed a Granny Smith apple from the big apple barrel, and began to shop the friendly country store. In 1966, Howard attended Albany Technical School and received a license in heating, ventilation and air conditioning. He worked this business along with two chicken houses of over 5,000 hens, Bishop Well Service, Bishop Body Works and Bishop Trailer Park.
Howard was a member of Pine Level Methodist Church where he played a pivotal role. He was a Sunday school teacher, Lay leader and speaker, Sunday School Superintendent, and served on numerous committees through his many years of diligent service. Pine Level was a love of his life and where he served the Lord. One of Howard’s most enjoyable roles was serving as Trustee at Camp Tygart, a Methodist youth camp, located on the Withlacoochee River between Nashville and Adel. The camp achieved excellent facilities for living, dining, recreational activities for youth, as well as a beautiful outdoor tabernacle and chapel for worship services.
Howard was a member of the Kiwanis Club and also served as president.
Through their 68 years of marriage, Joyce and Howard have provided a large and wonderful family. Howard is survived by his wife, Joyce, a son, Robert with his wife Gayle of Orlando, Fl, a daughter, Brenda Alford with her husband, Dan, of Roswell, Ga. and a son, Eddie with his wife, Ludell, of Acworth, Ga. Together they have seven grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren.
Our family will miss this legend of a husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. Billy Graham, whom Howard greatly admired, once stated, “ The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren, is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.” You have done that well, Pepa, and we are honored to be a part of your legacy.
The Bishop family wishes to thank all the many friends who have kept in contact with Howard and the family through these difficult times. We have felt your love and your support has kept us strong. We appreciate your kindness more than we can ever truly express.
The family suggests those desiring to send memorials may send them to Pine Level United Methodist Church c/o Anne Deese, 217 Swan Rd., Fitzgerald, Ga. 31750.