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Harrell ‘Sonnie’ Andre Flowers

Harrell “Sonnie” Andre Flowers passed Tuesday, April 30, 2019, at the Brookdale Senior Living Center in Clinton. 

Sonnie was born Sept. 9, 1946, in Laurel and raised in Key West, Fla.

After graduating from Key West High School and working for a moving company, he joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of 19. 

Sonnie was stationed at several stateside bases after completing basic training, and then spent a year in Vietnam before being stationed in Spokane, Wash., at Fairchild Air Force Base. There he met and married his wife of 48 years, Julie Ann Woodhead Flowers.  Their first daughter Heather Jewel Flowers Niesel (husband Michael and sons Charlie Niesel and Bailey Howard) was born at Fairchild AFB in March 1974. 

The family became active in the base chapel and both Sonnie and Julie taught Sunday school.  At the time, they were transferred to RAF Mildenhall in England, where Sonnie was a staff sergeant in the machine shop that manufactured parts for airplanes.

He became the assistant leader of the Burwell Village Boy Scout Troop. The highlight of the year was camping on the white cliffs of Dover. After three years of enjoying English neighbors, having a second daughter, Katie Elizabeth Flowers on March 24, 1977, during Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee and Sonnie’s promotion to tech sergeant, the family was transferred to Carswell AFB in Fort Worth, Texas.

Sonnie’s assignment was then changed from the machinist category to writing the manuals that were studied by machinists to gain promotions.

Sonnie’s career was approaching the 18-year level when he was assigned to Chanute AFB in Rantoul, Ill., just 20 miles north of Champaign, Ill., home of the University of Illinois.  Both daughters were in grade school at this time, and Sonnie was promoted to master sergeant. The family again became active in the base chapel, and it wasn’t too long before Sonnie and the girls were wearing sheep costumes for the Christmas nativity pageant. 

Sonnie also became a Boy Scout Troop Leader and trained his young scouts in winter survival techniques.  After 26 years of military service and serving at MAC, TAC and SAC bases, Sonnie retired as a senior master sergeant and went back to school studying to become a registered nurse. 

Sonnie’s first RN job was serving in the health clinic for the Lincoln’s Challenge Program taught at Chanute AFB.  Sonnie began making medical contacts in Champaign and he gained a position with Champaign’s drug and alcohol rehab program. 

After another year, this led to a permanent position with Champaign County’s Public Health Department as an infectious diseases RN. 

Sonnie was in this position for 10 years when Julie had the opportunity to transfer from the Army Corps of Engineers’ Laboratory to the Waterways Experiment Station Information Technology Laboratory in Vicksburg. 

Sonnie was selected for a RN position with the Warren County Health Department, and became a TB specialist for Warren, Yazoo and Claiborne counties.  During his exceptional 22-year nursing career, Sonnie always put his patients first.

Sonnie was preceded in death by his parents, Harrell Flowers and Jewel James Flowers, his younger brother Ronald Ira Flowers and his father-in-law James Raymond Woodhead.

Services will be 2 p.m. Friday, May 3 at Riles Funeral Home, with visitation beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Memorials may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project.