Published 5:48 am Monday, March 21, 2005

By Staff
Click link for 03-20-05 Obits
Rachel Dirden Shoemaker
ATMORE – Mrs. Rachel Dirden Shoemaker, 50, passed away March 14 at USA Knollwood Hospital in Mobile. Funeral Services were held at 2 p.m. on March 18 at Jones Street Holiness Church in Atmore with Bishop Willie L. Williams and Minister Carolyn Banks officiating. Graveside services followed in Fairview Cemetery in Atmore.
Mrs. Shoemaker was a native of Uriah and attended school in Escambia County. She worked for Mannors Slacks for three years and Corner Cleaners for two years.
Mrs. Shoemaker's father, John Willie Dirden Sr., and mother, Betty Dirden, preceded her in death.
Survivors include her husband Roscoe Shoemaker of Atmore; two daughters Ursha M. Dirden of Atmore and Lakesha Dale of Detroit, Mich.; sister, Margret (Walter) Lymon of Atmore and two brothers, James (Addie) Dirden and Barron Dirden, both of Atmore.
The family received friends on March 18 at Turner Funeral Chapel.
Jessie Bea Barrow Byrd
FLOMATON – Mrs. Jessie Bea Barrow Byrd, 82, passed away March 16 at a local hospital. Funeral services were held at 10 a.m. on March 19 at the Eastside Chapel Funeral Home with the Rev. Fred Brown officiating. Graveside services followed in the Flomaton Cemetery.
Mrs. Byrd was a native and lifetime resident of Flomaton and attended the Poplar Dell Baptist Church.
Survivors include her husband, Richard Byrd of Flomaton; son, Leon Johnson of Flomaton; sister, Willine Barrow Brock of Arlington, Texas; two grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchildren.
The family received friends on March 18 at the Eastside Chapel Funeral Home.
Ralph Leslie Smith
ATMORE – Mr. Ralph Leslie Smith passed away at his residence in Atmore on March 17. Born on April 19, 1907, he was the fourth of eight children born to Leslie and Lelia Smith in York, S.C. He had been a resident of Atmore since 1949.
Mr. Smith earned his bachelor's degree in agronomy at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, and his Master's Degree in chemistry from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.
After graduation he worked at Clemson in the university's Agricultural Experimental Station for 12 years before becoming an agronomist for the University of Florida. In this agricultural research position, he assisted farmers in Escambia County Florida produce more profitable crops. Also in his capacity with the University of Florida, he helped establish an experimental station, which studied peanut, soybean and wheat production in Munson, Fla., near Jay.
Mr. Smith was instrumental in producing the first wheat grown in Escambia County and the Florida panhandle. He also co-founded the S &S (Smith and Stephens) Seed Company in Walnut Hill, Fla., before becoming head of the experimental station in Munson, a position from which he retired in 1975.
A lifelong Presbyterian, Mr. Smith held numerous leadership positions in the First Presbyterian Church of Atmore, including Deacon and Elder. He was also a past president of both the Atmore Rotary Club and Men's Garden Club. A past president of the Alabama Rose Society in Mobile, Mr. Smith was well known for sharing the exquisite roses, which he grew, with friends and family.
Mr. Smith is survived by Juanita Durr Smith, his wife of 53 years; one son, Ralph Leslie Smith, Junior and his wife Tammy and their son Ralph Leslie Smith, III, all of Atmore. Other survivors include one sister, Mrs. Robert Hayes of Rock Hill, S.C., and a sister-in-law, Mrs. Harry Smith of Kingsport, Tenn.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday March 20 in Atmore at the First Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends in the Fellowship Hall immediately after the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the First Presbyterian Church, 208 East Horner Street, Atmore, AL 36502.
Gail Lanette Gill
Perdido – Mrs. Gail Lanette Gill, 47, passed away March 15 at a Baldwin County Hospital. Funeral services were held at 10 a.m. on March 18 at the Eastside Chapel Funeral Home with Bro. Henry Wilson and Sis. Marie Jordan officiating. Graveside services followed at Bryars-McGill Cemetery.
Mrs. Gill was a native and lifetime resident of Perdido. She was a loving wife, mother, and grandmother, dedicated to her family in every way and to the New Testament Church of Rayburn as a church worker and song director.
Survivors include her husband, Terry Gill of Perdido; her parents, Elwood and Ruby Stewart of Bay Minette; two sons, Chris Gill of Rabun and Kevin Gill of Perdido; brother, James Stewart of Bay Minette; two sisters, Lawana Haver of Bay Minette and Pam Wade of Fairhope and her grandson, Levi Gill of Rayburn.
Pallbearers were Bruce Eckert, Don Blount, Earl Ray Bryars, Earl Parker, Rufus Thompson, Bubba Rolin and Willie Ramer.

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