Deborah Lum Purviance

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2011

Deborah Lum Purviance died at her home, Oak Square, on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, after a brief battle with cancer.

Born Oct. 18, 1948, Deborah was a near-lifelong resident of Port Gibson and Claiborne County.

Deborah was preceded in death by her third child, Mary Elizabeth Purviance; her father, William Douglas Lum Sr.; and brother, Albert Brady Lum.

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She is survived by her mother, Martha Brady Lum (Port Gibson); her sister, Sandra Lum Knellinger (Ridgeland); her brother, William Douglas Lum Jr. (Port Gibson); her children, William Lum Purviance (Bentonia), Martha Ker Purviance Shannon (Port Gibson) and Hollis “Trip” Purviance III (Brandon); her former husband and best friend, Hollis Langston Purviance (Port Gibson); five grandchildren; 12 nieces and nephews; and 12 great-nieces and -nephews.

Deborah graduated from Port Gibson High in 1966 and later studied art under Marie Hull at Mississippi College. Deborah was assistant manager at Lum’s Department Store until it was sold in 1988.

To many, Deborah is best known for spearheading the 1800s Spring Festival held at Oak Square. The Spring Festival exhibited an archetypal and rebirth of a festival common to similar communities during the mid-19th century era. The Spring Festival was listed as one of the “Top 20 Events of the Southeast” (Southeast Festival and Events Association).

Deborah demonstrated her talents in a number of ways. Deborah was a practiced painter, managed a sizable staff at her business Oak Square Bed and Breakfast and refurbished home furnishings. She was a genealogist and organized and cataloged five generations of family and local history. She could take scraps of material and fashion tasteful apparel, furniture coverings, faux-finish floors and manufacture house draperies.

To others, Deborah has been referred to as “The Last Southern Belle.” Being that Deborah was proficient in knowledge of the history and lifestyle of day-to-day activities of 19th century society and life, Deborah was motivated and able to reproduce many dresses and uniforms of the era.

After receiving Oak Square Bed and Breakfast, Deborah transformed a struggling business into one with great potential. Her business and social skills and vision caused her to “think outside the box” and fostered a “new interest” in lodging in Port Gibson.

Deborah’s family life was varied. Her selfless devotion to her family was demonstrated in her care for her youngest child, Mary Elizabeth. For many years, Deborah set aside many of her dreams and ambitions to assist young Mary and minister to her handicapped needs. Deborah was there to assist Martha Ker in her time of surgical crisis, all the while caring for her aging mother. In later years, she and her daughter Martha Ker enjoyed many evenings learning ballroom dancing in Jackson.

Visitation will be at Oak Square, 1207 Church St., Port Gibson, at 9 a.m. Monday. Funeral services will then be administered by the Rev. David Harrison of Port Gibson United Methodist Church at 11 a.m. Monday at Oak Square.

Burial will follow at Wintergreen Cemetery. Guion-Glenwood Funeral Home will handle proceedings.