James Arthur “Jim” McDaniel, Jr. was born September 29, 1926, on a hill farm in Downsville, Louisiana, and passed away on June 24, 2020, at Merit River Region Medical Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi, at age 93. The oldest of three children, Jim completed elementary and high school in Union Parish public schools, then enrolled at his beloved Louisiana State University. However, in the Fall of 1944, he volunteered for service in the United States Navy during World War II serving as a radioman. At the end of the War, he served among the first U.S. occupation forces in Tokyo for many months. Upon his honorable discharge in 1946, he returned to Louisiana State University and completed his Bachelor of Science degree in January, 1949. He continued his agricultural economics study by accepting a graduate assistantship and earned his M.S. degree the following year. Following graduation, Jim worked with the LSU Extension Service for four years.
After meeting his true love in the LSU library, he married Arkansas native, Bonnie Jean Holman. They moved to Tallulah, Louisiana, in 1953, to work as a farm manager for Ashley Plantation. He later branched out on his own as an independent hog, cattle, and grain farmer which he continued until his retirement at age 71. During these happy and productive years, Jim and Bonnie raised two daughters, Marcia and Jane. Meantime, he was very active in the First United Methodist Church of Tallulah, served with the Madison Parish and Louisiana Farm Bureaus, Committee for a Better Louisiana, Public Affairs Research Council of Louisiana, Louisiana State University Advisory Board for Agriculture, and many other organizations. He also became president of the American Soybean Institute, traveling extensively throughout Japan and Korea in the 1970s to market soybeans as a more economical source of protein for the growing Asian population. He found time to help rewrite the antiquated constitution of Louisiana in 1973, serving on the Taxation, Revenue, and Wages Committee.
Never to stay idle when the crops were progressing or “laid by”, Jim became involved in the banking industry, with the Federal Land Bank of New Orleans (later Jackson, Mississippi), Mississippi Federated Cooperatives, Production Credit Association, and the Bank For Cooperatives serving on their various board of directors, and later as its Chairman of the Board. With his involvement in banking, he and Bonnie traveled to Argentina and Brazil to research agriculture and financial instruments used in South America.
Mr. McDaniel was preceded in death by his parents, Ruth and James Arthur McDaniel, Sr. of Union Parish; a brother, Aubrey Eugene “Gene” McDaniel, of Gauthier, Mississippi; daughter, Marcia Kilgore of Zachary, Louisiana; and a grandson, Kenny, also from Zachary. He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Bonnie Holman McDaniel, and daughter, Jane; a sister, Cheri Mond McDaniel of Baton Rouge; five grandchildren (James, Lisa, Kristen, Kimberly, and Jacob), and numerous great-grandchildren.
Graveside services for family members only due to the coronavirus will be held Saturday, June 27, 2020, at 10:00 A.M. at Memorial Park Cemetery in Tallulah, Louisiana with Pastor Henry Stone officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the First United Methodist Church or charity of choice.
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