Shared by Perry Petrey April 9th, 2016
Born in 1939 to Loyce and Susie. A middle child. Would grow up in the small town named after his family, Petrey Alabama. Storybook childhood and a life of privilege. Married his high school sweetheart, Nancy. They would give birth to the most handsome and intelligent boy ever to be seen in the state of Alabama years later (my opinion). Curtis and Nancy finished at the University of Alabama and he took his first job as a cameraman for channel 12 news in Montgomery. Later he saw there was an opening in the advertising department of a newspaper in Corinth Mississippi. He took the job, and in his first step of faith, stepped out into the world. He packed up his family, rented a small house and began at his new work at 24 years old. It was in Corinth where he was offered a share in a furniture/carpet business. There he would find his niche. He soon bought out his partner and concentrated solely on the carpet end of the business. The name of his company would be Carpet Contractors. His vision waMay 9, 2016 3:25 PM CDTMay 9, 2016 3:25 PM CDTs to not market to the public as much as to those in the construction business doing new installs. Business was good! He built his first home a few years later and they would have their first and only little girl, Susan. Life was good. He decided he needed to expand to a larger market so he added his second store in Tupelo. Seeing the potential, he took his second step of faith and moved his family. He was 27 years old. In Tupelo the business simply exploded. He would add another store in Columbus and then Oxford. Meridian was soon to follow. By his early thirties he had practically built a carpet dynasty. It was truly a storybook life. He built his second house, his dream home, on six acres of land outside Tupelo. He was playing golf with Johnny Vaught, the legendary coach at Ole Miss, Archie Manning and many other Ole Miss football players were coming to our house for dinner with their girlfriends. Word has it Dad hid Archie’s black Monte Carlo in his carpet warehouse in Oxford when the NCAA was in town. I’m sure it was just a vicious rumor. Yep, life was good, real good. He got his pilot’s license and bought him a plane to fly to all his stores. And then it happened.
His real Father, his heavenly one, showed up.
You know the bible lists nine gifts and five ministries however it talks about but does not list the operations. The gifts are attributed to the Holy Spirit, the ministries are given by Jesus but those both function in and under the operations that are given and guided by the Father of us all. Those operations are three. To gather, to build, and to repair. They are represented by three men in scripture Peter the fisherman, Paul the tent maker, and John who was fixing the nets. The lives of those men show the operations of the Father. Well, I’m not sure exactly what day it was the Father sent out a call. But it was clear that the master builder found Himself a builder, James Curtis Petrey.
The change ahead would be quick and quite severe at least on the surface. First, a manager of his Oxford store would embezzle thousands. The biggest enemy would be the economy itself. Interest rates would skyrocket and new construction would come to a standstill. Within months it would all collapse. I asked Dad what happened to all the business. He said, “Son, I had about every contractor in every city buying carpet from me. But when interest rates go through the roof people stop building houses. No, you don’t understand they STOP building houses!” After the collapse he took a job at the local newspaper as advertising manager and accepted the call to go into the ministry in the Methodist church. God had given them two more beautiful young boys, Jim and Bert, while in Tupelo. He was now ready to take his biggest step of faith yet and enter the ministry.
His first appointment was in South Pontotoc County as an assistant pastor. His salary was $600. a month. The parsonage was 900 square feet. There he was with his wife and four children, age 37. No business, no country home, no airplanes or other toys. He probably preached a lot on Joseph and Moses as he could relate. He commuted to Seminary in Memphis where He would eventually receive his masters of Divinity. After only one year in Algoma, South Pontotoc County Mississippi, he would be transferred to his first head pastor position at Potts Camp, MS. He would stay there for two years. Dad was somewhat of an anomaly to his fellow pastors in the conference as he was charismatic. Charismatic in that he had personally experienced the miraculous and believed that we're trying to make God into our image instead of the other way around. I’m not sure how or why but He was transferred to his third church, or charge as they say in Methodism, in Southaven, MS. It was in Southaven that the builder would take over. Meeting in an empty school room, Faith was the appropriate name for dad’s new church. Within months this little “charismatic” group of Methodists grew. They purchased a plot of land on Stateline road to build their new and only building. When dad went to get the address to the property for the mail. They told him 777 Stateline road. That’s a good sign for a charismatic! Well you know the rest of the story as Faith would continue to grow and expand under Dad’s gifts and leadership. It was the fastest growing Methodist church in the state. He would then go on to minister and build in Columbus, Tuscaloosa, and finally return to his childhood home in Petrey to retire. There he was soon elected mayor but wasn’t through building. He secured Federal money for a walking trail, storm shelter, and established a volunteer fire department.
Looking back on His life there is not a place he lived that he didn’t have an impact. He was always building. A business, a new house, a new church. You will find his mark where ever you go. The real things he built is what you can’t see. He built character. He gave wise council. He built and touched lives. You see, wisdom is like that. My dad passed away in the same bedroom he slept in as a child with his wife of 56 years by his side. What a life, what a run, what a man. You will be missed Dad. I love you.