William Banks McDowell, 90, passed away quietly in Silsbee, Texas at 5:30am on Friday December 9, 2011. Mr. McDowell was presently living in Lumberton, Texas with his wife of 63 years. Visitation is 5-8pm Sunday, December 11, 2011 and 9-10am Monday preceding the 10am service, all at Chancellor Funeral Home in Byram. Interment will follow at Crystal Springs City Cemetery.
Mr. Banks was born on March 18, 1921, in Okolona, MS and moved to Columbus, MS where he attended School at Franklin Academy & Stephen D. Lee High School. While in high school, he excelled in all sports and was the quarterback for the 1936 high school National Football Championship team. Mr. McDowell attended Mississippi State University in 1938 and Sunflower Jr. College in 1939 where he played baseball and football.
In 1940 he was inducted into the Army with the Mississippi National Guard with the 114th Field Artillery Regiment. They trained at Camp Blanding, Florida, Camp Barkeley in Abilene, Texas and Camp Gruber at Muskogee, Oklahoma.
In August 1943, he was deployed to North Africa. He saw combat in the Italian campaign at Cassino, Rome, and north to Milan. In September 1944, he was in combat in the Southern France campaign at Marseille, north to Lyon, to Alsace Loraine and on into Germany. In 1945 the European Theater of Operations ended. His unit was credited with 460 days of combat and four major battles. Mr. Banks was awarded the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service and honorably discharged from the service in 1945.
Mr. McDowell played professional baseball for 10 seasons after his military service as part of the Boston Braves organization. After his career in baseball ended, he continued to be active in sports in central Mississippi for 20 years as a baseball umpire, basketball referee, football referee, and softball umpire. He was a City of Jackson employee for 28 years in the Department of Revenues and Assessment.
Mr. McDowell is survived by his wife Elsie Louise Graham McDowell; two sons, Dallas W. Sparks, Jr. and wife Carol Caldwell Sparks of Beaumont, Texas and Graham Banks McDowell and companion June Blackwell of Acworth, Georgia; One grandson William Jeffery Sparks and wife Sallie Monk Sparks of Beaumont Texas; also, two great grandsons Jacob Alexander Sparks and Caleb Christopher Sparks.