From making children laugh while dressed as a clown to providing countless local families with their Christmas trees, John Frank Arrechea loved making people smile.
He died Monday at his home. He was 94 years old.
A Celebration of life service will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. at St. Andrews United Methodist Church with the Rev. Dennis Gossett officiating. Visitation will be held prior to the service beginning at 10 a.m. A graveside service will be held following the service at Oxford Memorial Cemetery. Waller Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Born in 1928 to Juan Jose Arrechea and Mary Elizabeth Comley Arrechea, he spent his early years in the Hill Country of Texas as the youngest of two children.
He volunteered and joined the US Air Force in 1948 and was stationed in Puerto Rico and Yokota AFB in Japan. He served as ground crew on B-50 aircraft during the Korean War and was discharged in 1952.
He received his Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of Arkansas at Monticello in 1963
Arrechea and his family moved to Oxford in 1972 and a position as USDA Forest Service Project Manager for the Yazoo-Little Tallahatchie Flood Prevention Project completed his job hunting and ended his search for the perfect small town to raise his children. He retired from the USDA Forest Service in 1985.
He came out of retirement when he was approached about teaching a forestry program on the college level. He initiated and was responsible for all functions of the Forest Technology Program at Holmes Community College in Grenada and taught all seven forestry courses from 1887-1994.
He was married in 1960 to Lois Marie Miller of Mena Arkansas. They had twin boys, taken too soon to live with God. They were also blessed with two daughters, Sarah and Katherine and a son, Joe.
In 1978, Arrechea bought a tree farm south of Oxford and planted his first crop of Christmas tree seedlings in 1982. The Springwood Christmas Tree Farm sold hundreds of trees and brought thousands of smiles to young and old for 28 years.
Beginning in 1972, Arrechea performed as Oxford’s Town Clown. He dressed as his favorite clowns, Emmett Kelly and Otto Griebling, performing silently but with a huge smile on his face in over 65 parades and 140 miscellaneous appearances. He especially loved parades, finding a school band, and listening to the rolling snare drums that gave him the needed adrenaline to shuffle and sashay from side to side as he waved to smiling faces along the parade route.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to: St. Andrews Methodist Church Pantry, P.O. Box 6, Oxford, MS 38655.
Obit information from Waller Funeral Home