Developer Johnny Jabour dies at 74

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 27, 2002

[02/27/02]Vicksburg Realtor, developer and insurance executive Johnny E. Jabour died Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2002, at River Region Medical Center. He was 74.

Today, he was described as a quiet leader who was effective in business, civic and church pursuits.

“He was a guy nobody could get mad at,” said Charles Abraham of Charles’ Department Store, who had known Jabour since their days as Carr Central students. “He could charm you.”

Mr. Jabour was elected to the high school Hall of Fame, then went to Millsaps College in Jackson were he continued his successes on the football team. He was captain of the team and was named Mister Major, one of the highest honors at the school.

After Millsaps, he attended law school at the University of Mississippi. In college he was named to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity.

In Vicksburg, Mr. Jabour became involved in insurance and real estate sales and development.

“He did something for this community nobody thought he could do,” said retired banker and friend Shouphie Habeeb. “He gave us a planned community, Openwood.”

Openwood, located on Oak Ridge Road northeast of downtown Vicksburg, drew its name from the plantation in the area owned by the Rev. Newit Vick, the Methodist minister who platted Vicksburg and sold it in lots. Vick’s plantation was called Open Woods.

It was the first large, planned community outside the city and initially offered homes, apartments, a recreation center and golf course.

Mr. Jabour won a number of awards for his development work, including the Gold Medallion Award of Excellence, the Historical Heritage Award in Architecture for the downtown Kaleel Building from the Mississippi Historic Foundation and the Better Homes and Gardens National Real Estate Developer of the Year Award. He also received the Unsung Hero Award in 1998 and the Blue Ribbon Home Award from the American Homes Foundation.

“He took some real gambles in real estate,” Habeeb said, but made them work often against the odds.

“He was a wonderful person,” said Frances Smith this morning. She was his secretary for 24 years. “He was a good man to work for,” she said.

Mr. Jabour served as president of the Warren County Board of Realtors and chairman of the Mississippi Board of Realtors, was a member of the National Board of Realtors in Washington, D.C., and was chairman of the Mississippi Real Estate Commission.

He was a former member of the Vicksburg Jaycees, was a member of the Vicksburg Rotary Club and was a member and board president of St. George Antiochan Orthodox Church.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Kaleel and Marie Jabour two sisters, Barbara Thomas and Evelyn Abraham; five brothers, George Jabour Sr., Michael “Mike” Jabour, Ned Jabour, Philip Jabour Sr. and Karl Jabour Sr.

He is survived by his wife, Faye Walker Jabour; two daughters, Jil Jabour Katz and Jere Jabour, both of Dallas; two stepsons, Craig Maddox of Brandon and Dale Maddox of Madison; and nieces and nephews.

Arrangements will be announced by Fisher-Riles Funeral Home.