Darwin McRae Maples, 92, of Lucedale, passed away on Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at his home. Born March 10, 1926, in Tiger Branch, George County, Miss., he was the son of the late Florian S. Maples, Sr. and the late Mackie Vee (Mixon) Maples. He married the late Minnie Ellen Woodard on June 26, 1954, and they were married 59 and a half years before her passing.
Known to family and long-time friends as “Snookum,” Maples attended Broome School and quit school in 1943 to join the U.S. Navy where he proudly served in the Pacific during World War II until March 16, 1946. After the war, he attended the University of Southern Mississippi, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Mississippi School of Law. He sat for the Mississippi Bar before graduating from law school, became licensed in Mississippi, and was admitted to the Mississippi Bar in 1952.
Throughout his career he practiced as an attorney in Lucedale calling himself “The Country Lawyer,” served 1952-1956 in the Mississippi House of Representatives, served as George County Prosecuting Attorney, represented the Board of Supervisors, and counseled numerous other entities and individuals. However, he is best known for his three-decade tenure as Circuit Court Judge for the 19th Judicial District serving Jackson, George and Greene Counties. Elected in 1962, he was the first judge of the newly formed 19th Judicial District and served that post until he retired in 1991. A legendary judge, he is credited with his innovative approach to establishing programs in his district that were implemented statewide such as the Regimented Inmate Discipline program, the Restitution Program, the paid Public Defender program, a rehabilitation program for public offenders, and several other programs that helped improve the overall judicial system. He was also instrumental in curtailing Ku Klux Klan activity in Jackson County that was related to the Vernon Dahmer trials in Hattiesburg during the 1960s.
Lawyers, clerks and members of the legal community heard him say more than once, “I may be in error, but I’m not in doubt.” At the time of his retirement he had more senior status than any other judge in the state. After retiring as judge, he practiced law with his son, Mark Maples, in Lucedale and enjoyed growing pine trees and blueberries on his farm and spending time with his family.
He was a member and Past Master of R.P. Bowen Lodge #430, a member of the Scottish Rite, a Shriner, an avid donor for the American Red Cross having given more than 130 pints of blood, and a faithful member of First United Methodist Church and the Methodist Men’s Sunday School Class.
He is survived by two sons, Joel Stephen “Porkie” Maples and Mark A. “Boochie” (Nancy Jo) Maples; one sister Jo Lee Maples Notman and two brothers, Florian S. Maples, Jr. and Dudley Moss Maples; grandson John Darwin Maples; grandson Samuel Arlie Maples, grandson Augustus Rae Maples; granddaughter Mollie Margaret Maples, grandson Benjamin Buntyn Maples, great-granddaughter Mattie Jean Maples, and great-grandson Joseph Arlie Maples.
He was predeceased by his wife, Minnie Ellen Maples, sister Mary Virginia Maples, brother Percy Lavellet Maples, brother Winston S. Maples, brother Francis Gerald Maples, brother Guy Talmadge Maples, and sister Nona Vee Maples.
Calling hours will be Thursday, April 12, from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. The funeral will be 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 13, at First United Methodist of Lucedale, 5101 Main Street, Lucedale, Miss. Burial will be in the Woodard Family Cemetery west of Lucedale on Friday, April 13.
Pallbearers are Joel Stephen Maples (son), Mark Anthony Maples (son), Samuel Arlie Maples (grandson), Augustus Rae Maples (grandson), Benjamin Buntyn Maples (grandson), and John Maples (nephew).
Sigler Funeral Home, 601-947-3112, www.siglerfuneral.com, 4248 Main Street, Lucedale, Miss., is in charge of arrangements.