In Memory of




Obituary for Jesse James Portis

When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”

Jesse James Portis transitioned peacefully on Saturday, May 14, 2022 in the presence of loved ones. He was born on April 27, 1948 to the late Willie V. and Katie Mae Phillips Portis in Hattiesburg MS. Jesse was the seventh child from this union that included five sons and three daughters.

The Portis children were very athletic (basketball and football) and they loved to sing and dance. Jesse often shared stories of how they used tin cans as their microphones.

Jesse received his formative education in the Hattiesburg Public School System and graduated from L.J. Rowan High School in 1970. He enjoyed participating in activities with the Class of 1970 (EUROHA).

Jesse was an accomplished war veteran. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on August 4, 1970. During his service, he received numerous awards, including the Bronze Star for ground operations in Vietnam.

After receiving an honorable discharge from the Army, Jesse moved to Portland, Oregon where he enrolled in trade school. His sweetheart, Diane, joined him and they were married December 26, 1973. Shortly thereafter, they returned to Mississippi to be closer to their family and friends.

Jesse continued his service to our country by enrolling in the Army National Guard Reserve. He also continued his education at Pearl River Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi. He began his career as a technician with South MS Electric and was employed there for nearly 30 years.

On April 19, 1984, Jesse and Diane became the proud parents of a beautiful baby girl, Jessica Diane Portis. Their family was blessed once again with another daughter, Janina Dawn Portis, on July 10, 1987. Both girls were the apples of their parents’ eyes.

Jesse and his family were faithful members of Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church for many years, where he served as an ordained Deacon and a Trustee. In March of 1994, Jesse’s beloved wife passed away suddenly and he became a widower and the sole parent to Jessica and Janina. In the early 2000’s, Jesse and his girls joined West Point Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Marcus T. Cathey.

Jesse is preceded in death by his loving and devoted wife, Diane Dedrick Portis, his parents, and siblings – Earnest J. Phillips; Willie Davis, Jr.; Lillie M. Brown; Katie B. Smith; Jerry L. Portis; Clara B. Powe; and Willie J. Portis. He is survived by two loving daughters, Jessica Portis (Kenosha) of Las Vegas, NV and Janina Portis of Hattiesburg, MS; two grandchildren, Amya and Christopher Donald, Jr.; sisters-in-love, Mary E. Portis of Roosevelt, NY, Willie R. Phillips of Houston, TX, and Lenda Dedrick of Bridgeport, CT; a brother-in-law, James C. Smith of Hattiesburg, MS; a special cousin, Peggy Scott of Hattiesburg, MS; close companion, Debbie Woullard of Hattiesburg, MS and her son, Jonathan Pace and grandson, Tyler; Godson, Benjamin Carter of Atlanta, GA; and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends.