Thomas Eugene "Gene" McDaniel, 93, a long - time resident of Gautier, MS, began his Heavenly Life on Thursday, November 17, 2022 from his home in Gautier with several loved ones by his side.
Mr. McDaniel was born August 15, 1929 in McComb, MS. He was the son of Otto and Eula McDaniel. He was preceded in death by his parents; his son, Thomas Otto “Tommy” McDaniel; a sister, Catherine Smith; two brothers, Charles McDaniel and Ray McDaniel; a sister- in- law, Irma McDaniel; two brothers- in-law, Jimmy Smith and E.W. Foy; a nephew, Bradley Smith; a nephew-in-law, Bruce Hopkins; and his father-in-law and mother- in-law, W.A. and Willie Lou Foy.
Life on a southwest Mississippi dairy farm during the Great Depression instilled a work ethic in Mr. McDaniel that he maintained throughout his life. As a young boy, he convinced his father to obtain a $25 bank loan so he could raise chickens to help support the family. While attending high school in Magnolia, MS, he drove a school bus, played football, and had an ice delivery route. After graduation, he attended Southwest Mississippi Junior College in Summit before answering Uncle Sam’s call to Duty in the Korean Conflict. Mr. McDaniel served two years of active-duty in the United States Army’s 432nd Engineering Corps Battalion where he operated heavy equipment such as excavators and bulldozers, quickly rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Following his honorable discharge from the United States Army Ready Reserve in 1956, he resumed his pursuit of higher education with classes at Millsaps and the University of Mississippi. After moving to the Gulf Coast in the early 1960s, he and his family joined First Baptist Church of Gautier where he faithfully served his Heavenly Father and the church body as a Deacon, including several years as Chairman of the Deacons; as a member of the Church Board of Trustees and various other committees; and as a Sunday School teacher. Joining the International Union of Operating Engineers, Mr. McDaniel worked for Manning Construction Company at various construction sites around the state of Mississippi. He was with them until he retired in 2003.
Mr. McDaniel is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Leonda F. McDaniel; two daughters, Renee (Patrick) Kelly and Deonda (Daniel) Smith; two grandsons, Errick Smith (Kayla Witthus) and Alston Smith (Genna Heetland); two brothers, Bobby (Jerry) McDaniel and Joe (Ann) McDaniel; two sisters-in -law, Mavis Wilson and Betty Foy; five nieces, Jane Smith, Sandra (Bob) Kyzar, Rhonda (Les) Caraccioli, Lori Hopkins, and Tammy (Harvey) Jones; nine nephews, Alan (Bonnie) McDaniel, Larry McDaniel, Glenn McDaniel, Mark (Laurie) McDaniel, Barry McDaniel (Norma Hyde), Jake McDaniel, Max (Anita) Finn, Michael (Deanna) Foy, and Ken (Sonya) Wilson; other beloved family members and friends.
Visitation will be Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, 9:00-10:00am, First Baptist Church in Gautier, MS. Funeral Service will begin at 10:00am will be Rev. James Wilson and Rev. Steve Bufkin offciating. Pallbearers will be Mike Foster, Rex Foster, Walter Greene, Ronnie Johns, Rusty Gill, and Billy Lofton. Honorary Pallbearers will be Bobby McDaniel, Joe McDaniel, Bill Rushing, and T.J. Johnson.
Graveside Service will follow at 2:00pm at Terry's Creek Baptist Church, 1147 Church Road, Magnolia, MS with Rev. Steve Bufkin and Mr. McDaniel's nephew, Alan McDaniel officiating. Honorary Pallbearers will be his nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation to your favorite veterans support charity, your favorite charity or First Baptist Church in Mr. McDaniel’s memory. You may send condolences to his family on the Tribute Wall.