A Celebration of Life service for Joe M. McKewen, 85, of Corinth is set for Thursday, January 4, 2018 at 2:00pm at Magnolia Funeral Home Chapel of Memories with Military Honors with burial to follow in City Cemetery.
Visitation will be Thursday, January 4, 2018 from 12:00 noon until service time at Magnolia Funeral Home. Born January 27, 1932 in Corinth, MS to the late Rufus and Nannie Lee Nichols McKewen, Joe was a member of First Baptist Church of Corinth.
Joe McKewen, a native of Corinth, was one of the most award winning photographers in America. He began honing his craft by attending the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. Opening his studio in Corinth in 1958 with his wife, partner, and love of his life, Doris. Joe McKewen Studio would remain open for 55 years, with most of Corinth and Alcorn County being photographed there. He would gain international acclaim as a portrait photographer, earning the Master or Photography, Photographic Craftsman Degree from the Professional Photographers of America. His awards included Mississippi Photographer of the Year, the Southeastern Photography Award, and the National Award for Professional Photography, as well as trophies and blue ribbons from across the nation. In addition to winning awards, he was a much sought after seminar speaker and judge for photographic events. Upon retirement, his complete photographic collection was received into the Mississippi State Archives.
Outside of photography, Joe McKewen was known as a naturalist, explorer, and big-game hunter. He was an expert in both wildlife and wild plants. His home was a menagerie of critters brought to him by the Game and Fish Commission for rehabilitation and release back into the wild, including, at one time, 12 baby alligators to be released in the Tuscumbia Bottom. His hunting experiences took him from the local woods to the Alaskan Tundra, where he bagged a record-setting moose. In 1976, sponsored by the Army Corp of Engineers, he led the only expedition to ever journey the entire length of the Tombigbee River in a canoe. This was prior to the river being dredged into the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, and his photographs are the only complete photographic record of this river in its natural state. This expedition earned him an invitation to and membership in the prestigious Explorers Club in New York City alongside the likes of Neil Armstrong and Jacques Cousteau.
McKewen was also an accomplished athlete, earning varsity letters in both football (4 years) and basketball (3 years) at Corinth High School. After returning to Corinth to open his studio, he could be seen every Friday night atop the press box at Warrior Stadium filming the games for the CHS football team, which he did for over 50 years.
McKewen’s civic accomplishments were numerous as well. He loved Corinth and would do anything for his hometown. He worked tirelessly as an advocate for the city and served diligently as a member of the Corinth Election Commission for many years. He was also deputized by the Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department and photographed many crime scenes. He was a long-time member of the Corinth Rotary Club and was honored with their highest award; being named a Paul Harris Fellow.
Above all, he was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend, and follower of Christ. His wife of 59 years, Doris, preceded him in death in 2015, and December 29, 2017 they were reunited in a new and eternal life.
Joe is survived by his son, Jody McKewen and wife Gaylene of New Port Richey, Florida; 4 grandchildren, Ian McKewen, Kevin McKewen, Krista Zelizney and Chelsey Zelizney; numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of friends. Along with his parents and wife, he is also preceded in death by his , brothers, Rufus McKewen, Jr and James McKewen; and his sisters, Marjorie Heyer and Dorothy Ann Wayatt.
The Rev. Dennis Smith and Rev. Jody McKewen will officiate the service. Pallbearers will be Charles Swimmer, Mike McEwen, J. B. Darnell, Bob Heyer, Bill Droke and John Darnell.
Magnolia Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Mr. Joe M. McKewen.