Mr. Ryle William Tatum, age 94, passed away on Saturday, July 16, 2022 at his residence.
He was thankful for the longevity of life and for the great journey on the long way home. He is in Heaven with his love of his life, Mary Ida Parker Tatum, they were married for 56 years until her death in 2013.
He is survived by three sons and two daughters-in-law: Kyle and Kathy Tatum of Newnan, GA; Reid and Linda Tatum of Statesboro, GA; and Kent Tatum of Statesboro, GA; granddaughters Casey Tatum of Statesboro, GA; Hannah and Bo Ginn of Augusta, GA; Mary King and Joseph Phillips of Newnan, GA; ,great-grandchildren Jax, Levi and Henry of Newnan, GA; sister Jeanette Mellinger of Maryland; sister-in-law Betty Tatum of Covington, GA; sister-in-law Sherry Tatum of Arab, Alabama; sister-in-law Ann Parker of Ludowici, GA; sister-in-law JoAnna Parker Guthrie and husband Billof Jacksonville, FL; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by five sisters and three brothers.
He was born in Cartersville, GA and was the son of the late Rile Tatum and Bertha Lee Tatum. He graduated from Pine Long High School in Bartow County, where he was an outstanding basketball player. He played his home basketball games on a dirt basketball court. He must have excelled because he won a basketball scholarship to the University of Georgia. But Tatum decided UGA was too big for a country boy, and told his coach as much. The coach arranged for him to attend Brewton-Parker College in Mount Vernon, GA. He later returned to UGA.
Tatum served as sophomore class president at Brewton-Parker. He was active in drama and speech club. He was a member of the all-state college basketball team in 1947 and 1948; played on the All-Southern Junior College Basketball team in 1948; and was a member of the Brewton-Parker Hall of Fame. Tatum was team captain and the last living player of the Brewton-Parker College basketball team that won the Southeastern Junior College Championship in Lake Charles, La., advancing to the National Junior College Tournament in Springfield, Mo in 1948. He served several teams on the college Board of Trustees and was past president of the 50 Century Club. He and his wife were, Mary Ida, were selected Alumni of the Year in 2001.
Tatum attended the University of Georgia from 1948 until 1950 on an athletic scholarship. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1950 and a Master of Arts degree from Peabody Vanderbilt University in 1954.
Tatum was drafted into the United States Army in 1950 during the Korean Conflict. He was voted Most Outstanding Athlete while serving at Camp Stewart, GA. He was a member of the army All-Star Basketball Team in 1952 while stationed at Fort Dix in New Jersey. He greatly enjoyed reunions with friends from his Army days in the years following his service.
Tatum was a coach in Seminole County, GA from 1952-1955. He was selected as sports director for Camp Stewart in 1955. He served in that capacity until 1966, where he was appointed special services director at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, a position he held until retirement in 1985. During this time, he attended many workshops and seminars and served on committees with the Armed Forces in major cities throughout the United States. He and others wrote the Army Regulation 28 pertaining to soldier and family morale.
Tatum had bestowed upon him honorary “Kentucky Colonel” by former Major League Baseball Commissioner and former Governor of Kentucky Happy Chandler. He was also honored with the title of “Georgia Colonel” by President and former Governor Jimmy Carter. Tatum received South Carolina ‘s highest government civilian award. Upon retirement, he received the Standard of Excellence award from the National Federation of American Recreators.
Tatum lived in Hinesville, GA for more than 45 years, where he was active in civic and religious organizations. He served as Sunday School director, deacon and teacher at Hinesville First Baptist Church. He was a member of the Hinesville Lions Club and served in every capacity of leadership. The Lions Club International Foundation honored Tatum with the Melvin Jones Fellow Award, the highest form of recognition conferred by the foundation, for his humanitarian service. He was past president of the Golden K Kiwanis. He served in every capacity in the Georgia Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons and received a special citation for service to the organization and the community. Tatum was instrumental in the formation of the Liberty County Recreation Department and served as board chairman. He was an active member of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees.
One of Tatum’s fondest memories of his youth is entering a cotton field in the red hills of North Georgia on a fall frosty morning with the plan of picking as much cotton as he could in one day. At weighing up time, he drew praise for picking 400 pounds.
In 1945, Tatum became a Master 4-H Club member by winning the state cotton production competition. The award was a trip to Chicago to attend the National 4-H Club Congress. While there, he enjoyed seeing the highly-rated and still popular musical “Oklahoma.” Broadway –type productions became a special appeal to Tatum and he saw many in his lifetime.
Tatum and his wife Mary Ida moved to Statesboro in 2001. During their middle-aged years, he and his wife enjoyed all forms of dancing, especially ballroom, winning several awards in competitive events.
The couple always looked forward to Saint Patrick’s Day in Savannah. They would invite out-of-state friends from their Army days. They would come early in the week and stay late. On the day of the special event, they would dress in green, rent a van, and head to Savannah. After enjoying green grits at The Pirates’ House, they would set chairs along the sidewalk outside the restaurant and watch Fort Stewart marching soldiers march by. Many of the women in their group would plant a kiss on the soldiers’ cheeks. After a festive day, they would return to their home in Hinesville and be treated to a delicious Irish dinner catered by Malicks. They were members of Statesboro First Baptist Church.
Tatum was a man of great humor, contagious laughter, and devoted to caring for his family and his many friends. He faced difficult times with a positive attitude and never lost his zest for life. During his time in the Army, college and daily living, he made everlasting friends who sent him 130 cards on his 90th birthday.
Visitation will be Wednesday from 5:30pm until 7:00pm at Joiner Anderson Funeral Home in Statesboro.
Graveside service will be Thursday at 10:30am in Memorial Gardens at Jones Creek Baptist Church located on Cecil Nobles Highway, five miles north of Ludowici, GA.
In lieu of flowers, send remembrances to Jones Creek Baptist Church, 69 Jones Creek Loop, Ludowici, GA 31316.
The family would like to thank Dr. Brian Moogerfield and Kindred Hospice for their care during his infirm years.
Friends may sign the online register book at www.joineranderson.com.
Joiner-Anderson Funeral Home & Crematory of Statesboro is in charge of the arrangements.