J.M. Tidwell, longtime city grocer, dies

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 5, 2002

[04/04/02]Vicksburg entrepreneur and grocery owner and operator John Mercer “J.M.” Tidwell died Tuesday, April 2, 2002. He was 66.

“He was a self-made businessman and credited all his success to God,” said his wife, Johnann Tidwell.

Tidwell, a native of Lexington, moved to Vicksburg in 1956 and began his career as an employee of Crawford Mims in a Jitney-Jungle on Washington Street. Following that, he worked at another Jitney on Cherry Street with John Toler, and later co-owned a Jitney Jungle No. 4 with John “Kayo” Dottley.

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Dottley said he will remember Tidwell as a hard worker who was honest and sincere.

“He was very successful with his efforts,” he said. “I thought the world of him.”

In 1977, Tidwell built and then owned and operated the Big Star Shopping Center (now Morgan’s Grocery) on Halls Ferry Road, and in 1983 built the adjoining “Country Kitchen.”

Tidwell also built the first of two Super Junior stores in Vicksburg, in 1979, at Nailor and Fisher Ferry roads, and the second in 1987 on U.S. 61 North. He had begun construction of a third Super Junior on Bowie at Oak Ridge at the time of his death.

“I respected him as a boss and as a friend,” said Doris Glassl, who has worked 32 years as an employee of Tidwell’s, at three of his stores.

“He would always take just one vacation a year and one day off, just the same as his employees.”

Tidwell was instrumental in beginning Southside Baptist Christian School in 1994 and was a trustee and president of the school board.

Vickey White, a school official, said it was Tidwell’s influence and support that also saved the school when financial problems threatened its existence shortly after it was founded.

“He was committed to Christian education,” she said. “He was great in the ministry and the business world. We couldn’t have done it without him.”

Tidwell attended Highland Baptist Church, but was a member and deacon of Southside Baptist Church for many years.

He was preceded in death by his father, Arthur Buck Tidwell, and his mother, Martha Lillian Tidwell.

He is survived by his wife; two daughters, Suzanne Allen and Nancy Middleton, both of Vicksburg; a son, Jay Tidwell of Vicksburg; a sister, Margaret Wigley of Batesville; and seven grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 5 to 8 tonight at Glenwood Funeral Home.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Highland Baptist Church with the Revs. George Hammitt and Brian Ivy officiating. Burial will be at Green Acres Memorial Park.

Pallbearers will be Bill Wigley, Billy Stribling, Ronnie Chrestman, Robbie Robertson, Trey Pierce, Clarence Pierce and Mark Dement.

Honorary pallbearers will be Bud White, Nick Cocilova, Herbert Hearn, Ken Breland, Philip Coutch, Otto Moore, Randall Dillon and employees of Super Junior.