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Jacob Megehee: From bull riding to Vietnam and back, the circuitous making of a cattleman

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"4-H and FFA are great training for youngsters, and I wouldn’t take anything for my experiences in those organizations when I was growing up," says Macon, Miss., cattleman Jacob "Jake" Megehee. Those experiences also included rodeoing: “I could make money at it, and [he grins] girls liked bull riders.”

 

“I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years to get to the point that I could afford to be a cattleman,” laughs Jacob “Jake” Megehee, who with his wife, Martha, has a cow-calf operation on the rolling prairie lands near Macon, Miss. (see the article here: http://deltafarmpress.com/livestock/megehee-farm-attention-detail-pays-p...)

He ticks off some of the waypoints of his 71 years:

• Work on the family farm in Pearl River County, Miss. “We had dairy and beef cows and hogs,” he says, “and I grew up with animals as part of everyday life.”

• 4-H and FFA projects and rodeo bull rider and calf roper: “4-H and FFA are great training for youngsters, and I wouldn’t take anything for it.” As for the rodeoing, he says, “I could make money at it, and (he grins) girls liked bull riders.”

• Seven years active duty as an Army helicopter Medevac pilot, including one Vietnam tour and duty all over Europe. “We even got a blessing by the Pope in Rome — but I don’t know how well it works for Southern Baptists,” he laughs. Then, 22 years in the National Guard and Army Reserves where he retired as a Colonel.

• Mississippi State University: He’d earned his undergraduate degree there, but when he returned for a master’s in ag economics, he also managed the university’s South Farm, did a lot of flying for the university, worked on many of their construction and equipment design/maintenance projects, and got within one course and a dissertation of earning a Ph.D.

• When the director of Noxubee County’s emergency management agency resigned, Jake was asked to serve in the post for one year. “That extended to five years,” he says, “including Hurricane Katrina, when both Martha and I were involved in emergency operations and food distribution here and on the Gulf Coast.”

In addition to children and household contributions during his flying and university years, Martha worked for 23 years with the Mississippi Department of Human Services and retired as a Supervisor in Noxubee County. An accomplished musician, she has been pianist at their church, Macon First Baptist, for 37 years, and is now studying violin. Jake is a member of Gideons International and works with the organization in its Bible distribution programs.

The Megehees have three children: Maria, an environmental chemist and project manager with Brown and Caldwell, a national environmental engineering consulting firm in Nashville, has worked for 20 years on cleanup projects to remove toxic chemicals from soil, groundwater and industrial facilities.  She is active in her church including coaching Upward Basketball, and has also participated in several mission trips, including Ukraine and Poland. Paul, an OB-GYN physician in Scottsboro, Ala., served in the Air Force as a major. An active member of his community and church, he is an avid wildlife enthusiast and active in wildlife conservation efforts. His wife and three children are also very involved in their local schools, church, and community. Alison, a registered nurse at New Market, Ala., works in the respiratory care unit at the Huntsville, Ala., hospital. She and her husband and two girls are also active in their church and schools.

“All our children worked and made their own money, raising calves, showing cattle in 4-H, and doing other farm work,” Jake says. “They bought their own first car or pickup with money they earned. There’s nothing better than farm work to teach a youngster responsibility.”

Looking back over the decades, he says, “God has seen fit to bless us all our lives. During Vietnam, I was shot down five times, but I never missed a day of flying. We have three great children, great son-in-law and daughter-in-law, five wonderful grandchildren, splendid neighbors, and a business we love — who could ask for a richer life?”

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