Graveside service for M. D. Akridge, 92 of Stillmore, were held Sunday, January 24, 2021 at 2 p.m. at Mount Shady Baptist Church Cemetery with Mr. David Gorham and Reverend Rusty Moore officiating. The family received friends from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 23, 2021 at Chapman Funeral Home. In compliance with the guidelines set by the CDC, the 6’ rule was enforced during the visitation and service. He passed away Thursday, January 21, 2021 at AU Medical Center in Augusta following an extended illness.
Mr. M. D. Akridge was born December 24, 1928 in Tom to the late Jim Lewis Akridge and Trudie Stapleton Akridge. As a young boy, the family moved to Stillmore, where M.D. would make his permanent home, where he would find love, marry his sweetheart, and begin his family.
Born to a farmer, he began his life in Stillmore as such. M.D. was plowing behind a mule when he couldn’t even see over the bar between the handles. As he grew older, his farm family would help fellow farmers and in doing so, a young, blue-eyed girl caught his eye.
As she was watching him one day, M.D. “turned a flip” out of the back of the truck, and that is when Betty Jean Jones said, “Yep, that’s the one I’m going to marry.” So she did. This was the beginning of his legacy, which would title him the patriarch of the Akridge Family.
M.D. and Betty were married November 29, 1947 and began their life together as sharecroppers. M.D. would come to farm tobacco, corn, cotton, soybeans, wheat, and peanuts, and his children would recall, “He grew everything we ate, except for the dry goods.”
Their first child, a girl, was born on September 23, 1948, with 10 other siblings to follow. There were six girls and five boys total. M.D. raised his family on $25 a week, yet he would still give anyone the clothes off of his back—literally. A man brought a load of fertilizer to the farm one day and before he left, M.D. told Betty, “Go fix him up a bag of my clothes and give to him.”
The children recall their daddy getting off of his tractor after plowing the field and picking or gathering whatever was ripe at the time, such as plums, bullises, berries, and he would bring that harvest home to them in his hat.
M.D. was a family man, but he did love to fight. He was scrappy fella at one time, so scrappy that sometimes if he and Betty were walking down the street, he would sort of push her into a man walking by, just so he could fight. Boy, you sure knew that Jerry belonged to him, two peas in a pod!
The fighting and scrapping ended in 1952 when M.D. was in a car wreck. The wreck broke his back and severed his left ear. He didn’t let that bother him, though. He would slap that ole brown hat on his head, tilt it to the left, and keep on going.
M.D. was a drinker too (although he made way more than be drank)! When he had that wreck, he told God if He would let him live, he would not drink again, and he never had another drop.
Back to making more than he drank—it’s told that he made enough moonshine to fill a pond, maybe even a lake. On one of his trips from town, hauling sugar back for his batches, he was pulled over. It may or may not have been obvious since the back of his car was nearly touching the dirt. The cop told M.D., “If you will tell me what you’re gonna do with that sugar, you can keep it.” M.D. replied, “You can keep it.”
When M.D. and Betty’s marriage of 29 years came to an end, he remarried Ann and gained another son and raised him as his own. M.D. had nicknames for all 12 of his children. All 12: Jane (Pig), June (Bug), Peggie (Pud), Lewis (Scrap), James (Knothead), Mop (Mop)…(Jimmy—has anyone ever known his as Jimmy?), Frank (Nink), Ricky (Knockerhead), Janet (*****… Well, her nickname rhymes with “wuss”), Tammy (Little Doll), Jerry (Little Man), and Joe (Hoss).
M.D. loved his children. He loved life. He loved Jesus.
M.D. was born a twin, a little 2 lb. boy with a twin brother named R.T., who has been reunited with M.D. now 92 years later.
M.D.’s nickname was PeeWee because he was so small. M.D.’s family was the third in his area to get television. He had two mules, named PeeWee and Smutty. He liked PeeWee the best because he was wild and spunky. M.D.’s favorite muse was bluegrass and old country. He loved to dance, especially “buck dance.” He danced with all six of his girls on his 90th birthday. He loved to watch westerns.
Everyone said how kind and humble M.D. was, but Little John said there was definitely another side to him—especially if you cropped the tobacco too short or rode your dirt bike across a newly planted field.
M.D. had spend-the-night parties with his daughters. His last two Father’s Days were spent doing just that with the girls. He loved to fish and loved to catch fish. He loved to eat fish; his favorite was mullet eggs. There were too many fishing trips to even talk about.
He was the best tooth puller this side of the Mississippi. Just ask Baylee and Aaralyn. Hey, he was called M.D. for a reason!
Unconditional love was something he showed everyone, all the time, every day. He was always smiling, always hugging, and never complained.
M.D. loved his children. It didn’t matter whose they were or how many there were. He loved each and everyone of them, and each and everyone of them loved M.D.
“He’s always been good, always been special,” says his sister, Jean. She wouldn’t snitch out any bad stories! She’s going to miss the peanuts he would always take her.
If you ever saw M.D., you saw him in boots. Those boots were the biggest boots ever… And they will never be filled.
There’s a sign in his home that reads, “I have a hero, I call him Dad.” His grandchildren call him “Daddy Deebie.”
He was preceded in death by his parents; wives, Betty Akridge and Ann Akridge; brothers, James Akridge and Alvie Akridge; and sisters, Katie Canady, Annie Marsh, and Leona Jones.
Survivors include his companion, Alma J. Kersey of Stillmore; sons, James (Teresa) Akridge of Twin City, Lewis (Joan) Akridge, Jimmy “Mop” (Donna) Akridge, Ricky Akridge, Jerry (Ashley) Akridge, all of Stillmore, and Joe (Jessica) Akridge of Oak Park; daughters, Jane (Tony) Garris of Adrian, June (Wayne) Cowart of Garfield, Frances (Bill) Akridge of Statesboro, Janet (Kenny) Wilburn of Canoochee, and Peggie Akridge and Tammy (Darrell) Green, both of Stillmore; brothers, Ralph Akridge and Elzie Akridge, both of Swainsboro; sisters, Martha Nell (Dent) Beasley and Jean (Colon) Henry, both of Swainsboro; 40 grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren, several great-great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews; and many friends.
Pallbearers were Lee Smith, David Deloach, Eddie Ellis, Jeff Partridge, Jack White, and Matt Jones.
Chapman Funeral Home of Swainsboro was in charge of arrangements.