J. David Earnest, age 67, passed away April 30th after a long battle with cancer. He was born on April 29, 1955 in Itawamba County, Mississippi. David was married for 43 years to his college sweetheart, Margaret Ann McKell. He was a resident of Watkinsville, GA.
Survivors include his wife Margaret, sons Robert David (Dallas, TX) and James Thomas (Atlanta) and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Bobby Jack and Betty Thomas Earnest (Tupelo, MS) and brothers Michael, Mark, Paul, Joel, and Tim.
After graduating from George Nelson Tremper High School in Kenosha, WI, David earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mississippi State University and a doctorate at the University of Georgia. David described himself as a Bulldog through and through but always claimed to bleed maroon and white. He was also a lifelong Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves fan.
David believed in service to others and volunteered for many church, civic and charitable activities. He volunteered his time to work with young people as he coached high school, college and youth baseball for decades. He enjoyed tinkering with computers, genealogical research and attending Mississippi State University sports events; he took pride in having attended an MSU football game in every stadium in the SEC. In 2019, he made it to the last stadium on the list in College Station, TX, just days after being diagnosed with cancer. Margaret and he traveled extensively including many National Parks and several trips to Scotland among others. David’s greatest joy in life, however, was being a devoted husband and father.
David was a member of First Baptist Church in Athens. He taught and coached at Starkville Academy and then worked in student affairs at both Mississippi State and the University of Georgia. In 1986, David found his true calling in life when he left his career in student affairs to enter the field of nonprofit management. As a consultant and trainer, he helped start more than 65 local chapters of Prevent Child Abuse Georgia around the state. Later, David was the CEO of Challenged Child and Friends in Gainesville, GA and then the CEO of Prevent Child Abuse Athens/Brightpaths. His favorite quote was “Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Believing in that idea, David claimed to have been one of the laziest men who ever lived because he loved each of his jobs.
A memorial service will be held at Lord and Stephens Funeral Home in Watkinsville, GA on Friday, May 6th 2022. Visitation is from 2:00pm and services will be at 3:00pm. Instead of flowers, David asked that friends and family donate to either the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or Prevent Child Abuse Athens/Brightpaths.
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