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Rev. Dr. Tommy Gene Bess, born January 31, 1950, passed away on November 21, 2011, in Rockford, Illinois. He was the sixth child of nine siblings born to Susie Jane Bess Beckwith and Horace Beckwith in Graves Creek, FL, both of who preceded him in death. The family later relocated to Blountstown, where he grew up preaching the word to everyone, and, therefore, accepted Jesus as his savior. He attended Calhoun County schools and graduated Mayhaw High’s Salutatorian of the 1969 graduating class. He attended the Florida Memorial College, in Miami; there he earned a Bachelor of Elementary Education Degree. He also met his wife (deceased) Thomasina Kelly. To this union, two daughters were born. Tommy was very active in the college community. He was elected Student Government Association President, he was a member of the Glee Club, and he pledged into the brotherhood of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. After graduation, for several years, he made his home in Ft. Myers, where he taught school. Later, he accepted a job in Indiantown, Fl., and made this his permanent home. Dr. Bess was ordained as the pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in 1975. He worked tirelessly, in the Martin County community, the church, the school system, and actively ministered to the needy, the sick, community leaders, politicians, and school officials until his health began to fail. He leaves to cherish his beloved memory two daughters, Tanjanette Bess and Tanjanelle Bess; one grandchild, Devin Melton; 11 siblings, brothers, Gene Bess, Ralph Bess, Minister Ernest C. Beckwith; sisters, Ellieen Lee, Almeter Wilson, Apostle Melody Peterson, Rev. Patsy Maxson, Tanguela Johnson, Geanette Bacon, Pastor Rosetta Baker and Betty Beckwith; one uncle, Bishop J.B. Beckwith; and a host of in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Funeral services will be held Saturday, December 3, at 1 p.m. (CT) at St. Mary’s Baptist Church in Blountstown. Interment will follow in the Magnolia Cemetery in Blountstown. Visitation will be at the church on Saturday, December 3, at 11 a.m. until service time. All arrangements are under the direction of Chandler’s Funeral Home, 7775 Tallahassee Highway, Attapulgus, Georgia 39815.

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