CHARLESTON - William D. Purnell, 87, died Dec. 24, 2003, at his home.
Born Sept. 24, 1916, in Sunflower County, Miss., son of the late Matt Whitaker and Matilda Shelton Purnell, he attended public school in Sunflower and Moorehead, Miss. He received a Bachelor of Science from Alcorn State University at Lorman, Miss., a Master of Education from the University of Missouri-Columbia and continued his studies at the University of Hawaii at Honolulu, Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich., and Colorado State University at Fort Collins. Purnell was a vocational teacher and grade school principal in Coahoma, Miss., and Canalou. He was also a vocational veteran agricultural teacher and youth specialist for five years with the University of Missouri and its Extension area.
He was co-owner of Williams-Farr and Purnell Funeral Homes in Sikeston and Howardville and Sparks Funeral Home in Charleston. Purnell served with the U.S. Army in World War II and had attained the rank of corporal. A member of Perry Chapel AME Church, where he served as a trustee, steward and chairman of the finance committee. He was also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Ten Tall Ones' Civic Club ad Rough Ash Lodge 22 AF&AM.
On May 22, 1946, in Detroit, Mich., he married Corine Gober who survives of the home.
Other survivors include: two sons and daughters-in-law, Leroy and Rita Purnell of Kansas City and Dale and Debra Purnell of Warner Robins, Ga.; and five grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Visitation is from 1 p.m. Sunday until service time at 3 p.m. at Perry Chapel AME Church in Charleston. The Rev. Kevin Jacques will officiate.
Full military graveside rites will be conducted at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery in Bloomfield.
Sparks Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.