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James Howard Oliver

December 12, 1926 ~ April 10, 2020 (age 93)


James “Howard” Oliver, 93 left this earth peacefully and was escorted by angels to be at the right hand of God on Good Friday, April 10, 2020.

Howard was born in Duck Hill, Ms. on December 12, 1926 to James Calvin Oliver and Zona Mae (Minafore/Dunlap) Oliver. Howard graduated from Greenwood Highschool in 1944 and began college at Mississippi State University but was recruited later in 1944 after one year of college with 8 others at the age of 17 to join the Naval Air Corp during WWII. Howard became an Aviation Cadet with plans to become a Naval aviation pilot. He finished training in April 19, 1946, but since WWII had ended, Howard remained a reservist and returned to Mississippi State University on the GI bill. Howard graduated in 1949 with a BA in Agricultural Engineering and became a land surveyor working full time until he was about 80.

Howard moved to Florida in the 50s after getting married at Yellowstone National Park and had 3 children in and around Orlando, West Palm Beach and Cocoa Beach, Fl. Howard married again in 1970 and moved to Deland, Fl. They later moved to nearby Debary in 1980 until 2009 when Howard moved in with his daughter and grandchildren in Deltona, Fl. They moved to New Smyrna Beach, Fl. in 2012 where they lived currently. Howard had attended Deland Baptist Church from the 70’s to the mid 2000’s and was proud to have been his Sunday school’s treasurer and secretary for many years and would always visit the sick and elderly after church taking food and doing errands.

Howard loved the Lord and still knelt beside his bed each night to say his prayers. He always had a special place in his heart for animals and was well known for feeding homeless animals and people too. “He was always smiling and to brighten someone’s day, he would give away boxes of coffee nips even to workers at the drive-thru when getting his favorite fries, burger and chili and to many greeters at Walmart. He always attended my school events and gave me life advice I still use today.” “He would give his last dollar to help any animal in need and we will miss him dearly and his insights into areas of the world I would never have known about.” “Besides always caring for animals, he researched and took tons of vitamins to stay healthy and passed that wisdom on to us.” Most recently Howard loved to sit by the pond and feed the geese that live here year-round and never left the house without asking about taking corn out for the geese on the way to the car.

A favorite story he told was about how he would help hold the “sort of” pet geese for his mom as she would pluck the feathers off to make down pillows once a year. He first said he got a nickel for each one he held and recently said he got 2 cents for each and he would hold the head and beak so it would not peck his mom as he was only 5 years old when he did this. He said they took all the feathers off except the flying feathers and we laughed as these Canadian geese we feed here everyday would look so funny running around naked. Even on the way to the ER, Howard asked if we could put out food for the geese and always wanted to on the way to the car.

Howard was predeceased by his parents, Zona Mae and James Calvin Oliver of Duck Hill, Ms., his first wife, Virginia M. Oliver of Raleigh, N.C., wife, Martha S. Oliver of Debary, Fl., son, Tom Dalton of Debary, Fl. and sister-in-law, Bonnie Oliver of Hattiesburg, Ms.

Howard is survived by his children, Thomas (Katie) C. Oliver of Newmarket, N.H., Linda (Stephen) South of Gerrads Cross, Buckinghamshire, England, Sandra Oliver of New Smyrna Beach, Fl., Phyllis (Brian) Mattheson of Deland, Fl. and daughter in law of predeceased son, Tom (Leslie) Dalton of Jacksonville, Fl. Howard is survived by 14 grandchildren, Krista, Adam, Taylor, Nathan, Abbie, Elizabeth, Rachel, Andrew, Sarah, Natasha, Luke, Ashley, Robert and Andrew and 12 great-grandchildren, Kai, Marlee, Maddie, James, MaryBeth, Luke, Hannah, Clara, Nora, Jonah, Emily and Oliver.

Howard is also survived by his younger brother, James C. Oliver, Jr. of Hattiesburg, Ms. and many newly re-acquainted relatives in Mississippi and many he never met. Howard is also survived by many great friends, some life savers being father and son, Bob and Rob Ayers of New Smyrna Beach, Fl. and the entire family of Keith & Mitzi McGee of Duck Hill, Ms. as they all have helped in so many ways and we cherish their friendships. Howard’s memory, legacy, and life well-lived will always be cherished.

Local Celebration of Life services will be held at Settle-Wilder Funeral Home in New Smyrna Beach, Fl. after the corona virus bands are lifted but please do post on the tribute wall here at and at the guestbook noted below.

Howard will later be taken home to Mississippi for Military Honors service at the North Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Kilmichael, Ms. Oliver Funeral Home in Winona, Ms. will be handling matters once Howard returns home so please sign the guestbook at

To respond, send messages, prayers, get updates, tell a story about Howard, send an old picture or get the full witness account of God’s angels escorting Howard into Heaven’s gates, all are welcome to send them to God Bless and be at peace.

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