James Vernon (Jim) Ham passed away Friday, December 2, 2016, in Smarr, Georgia.
Jim Ham was born in Monroe County Georgia June 2, 1961 to Philip Benson Ham, Sr. and the late Elsie Sanders Ham. He was raised on the family farm and graduated Mary Persons High School in 1979. He attended Gordon College and the University of Georgia before beginning Sleepy Creek Farms, a partnership he ran with his brother Phil and his father. He married his beloved Lydia Young Holland in 1985 and raised two children, John and Kimmie. He was a proud grandfather to his three granddaughters.
Jim grew up in Smarr, Georgia, one of five children and an enormous extended family. From childhood he absorbed the values of his parents and grandparents, extended family, and his church. Jim’s life was characterized by devotion to his family, his community, and the land.
Jim raised his first two calves when he was just six. As a fifth generation farmer, Jim worked on family dairy and beef cattle farms. His keen intellect and determination allowed the family business to grow as he and his family extended the family farm; innovated new practices in soil and water conservation; and incorporated new techniques for crop production, cattle breeding, cattle marketing, and the hormone free production of high quality beef. He served as the 5th District State Director of the Georgia Farm Bureau, the President of the Monroe County Farm Bureau, a Director of the Mid Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, a member of the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee of the Association of County Commissioners, was appointed to the State Water Planning Council, also serving as both a Supervisor and Director with the Towaliga Soil and Water Conservation District. He also served as President of the Georgia Association of Conservation District Supervisors, twice testified before the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture to inform and improve conditions for farmers and our environment, and was a founding member of the Two Rivers Rural Conservation and Development Authority.
Jim believed in public service and worked diligently on behalf of the citizens of Monroe County for almost all of his adult life. Jim was first elected to the Monroe County Commission in 1987 to represent District 2. Since then he continuously served his community as both Chairman of the Monroe County Commission and as District 2 Representative. He was recently reelected to serve another four years. Esteemed by his peers, he served as President of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, and represented all Georgians as a member of the National Association of Counties. He loved the people of Monroe County and saw it as an honor and privilege to serve them.
Jim’s greatest love and devotion was for his wife, children, grandchildren, and vast extended family. He took pride in the accomplishments of his granddaughters. He deeply valued working daily with his nephews, seeking to instill in them the perseverance and work ethic of a farmer’s way of life. He was raised and baptized at Forsyth United Methodist Church, and was a member at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Smarr where he raised his children and granddaughters.
His mother, Elsie Sanders Ham and his daughter Kimberly Ann Holland preceded him in death. He leaves behind his wife of 31 years, Lydia Young Ham, his father and stepmother, Benson and Ruth Ham, one son and his wife, John and Anna Holland of Smarr; three granddaughters, Alana and Thomas Nickles of Gray, Haley Holland, Katie Holland, both of Smarr; his siblings and their spouses: Carol and Curtis Jenkins of Forsyth, Phil and Dana Ham of Smarr, Wendie and Bill Britt of Atlanta, and Hollie and Kevin Wangerin of Smarr; and family: Melissa Reynolds, Mary Jane Alley, and Jimmy and Jane Young, all of Thomson. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews: Curt Jenkins and Leigh Jenkins of Forsyth, Ben and Hope Ham, Jediah, Ian, and Malachi of Augusta; Wesley Ham and Cassidy Benford of Forsyth, Cody Ham of Smarr, Sara and Diogo Pereira, Lidia and Lucas of Marietta, Will Britt of Atlanta, Joshua Wangerin, Ellie Wangerin, and Anna Wangerin of Smarr; Corbett Reynolds, Allison McGill, Amy Kitchens, Jennifer Ansley, Nicole Adams, Jessica Hixon, and Erica Adams, all of Thomson. He was also loved and will be remembered by numerous aunts and uncles: Nell and Kelly Joseph, and LaVue Sanders all of Forsyth, and Gloria Harbuck of Russellville, Ellen Ham of Smarr, Frank Elam of Silver Springs, MD, and Robert Ham of Conyers, numerous cousins, family, and dear friends.
The visitation will be held Monday, December 5, from 6:00 – 8:00pm, in the Wesley Worship Center, adjacent to the main building of Forsyth United Methodist Church, 68 West Johnston Street, Forsyth, Georgia.
The funeral will also be held at Forsyth United Methodist Church on Tuesday, December 6 at 3:00pm. Graveside services will follow at the Forsyth City Cemetery. WGXA will be Live Streaming the service at www.WGXA.TV
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the building fund of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, 40 Rumble Road, Forsyth, GA 31029, or to the American Cancer Society, 804 Cherry Street, Macon, Georgia 31201, to honor the memory of his mother.
The Reverend Liza Marler, Dr. Darris Baker, and Dr. Bill Britt will preside over the services. Monroe County Memorial Chapel has charge of the arrangements.