Known to many as ''Jim,'' ''Jimmy,'' or ''Jimbo,'' Dr. James Larohn Heflin was many things: a professor, a preacher, a scholar, a pilot, a DJ, a guitar player, and a husband, father, and grandfather. He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Wilma Rae Ham Heflin; his father, Edward J. Heflin; his mother, Marie Uptigrove; and two half-brothers, Hugh Heflin and Tom Heflin. He is survived by one son, James D. Heflin, of Deerfield, Massachusetts; one granddaughter, Stella Heflin, also of Deerfield; his sister, Janice Stewart, of Monticello; one niece, Judy Reap; two nephews, Steve Stewart and Keith Stewart; one half-sister, Charlotte Ellena of Rockford, Illinois; a sister in law, Marvelle Ham Dye Flippen and family of Little Rock, Arkansas; one brother-in-law, Ronnie Ham of Little Rock, Arkansas; and many cousins and friends.
Because he was a minister with a doctorate and often possessed a Buster Keaton-esque deadpan delivery, many people thought of him as quite serious, and didn't realize something else he was: a lover of humor, who delivered jokes nearly as often as he was serious. His doctoral dissertation at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was on the use of humor in preaching, and he used it in the pulpit and everywhere else. For a few years, he peppered his sermons with references to a character known as ''Widemouth Frog.'' He consistently referred to himself, entirely tongue-in-cheek, as ''a broken-down hillbilly.''
At Monticello High School, he excelled at basketball. Around the same time, he preached his first sermon. He went on to Arkansas A&M, where he studied History and French. Not long after, he moved to Texas, where he was a pastor of several churches, a seminary student, and a DJ (after his early years at KHBM in Monticello, he became ''Big Jim'' at KJIM in Fort Worth, Texas). He lived much of his life in Texas. He also pastored churches in Mansfield, Louisiana, and Greenville, Mississippi. In the early '80s, he became a teacher of preachers at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In 1985, he continued his teaching career at his alma mater, Southwestern. Throughout his professorial years, he continued to serve as an interim pastor at various churches -- often the small, country churches where he felt most at home.
In the 1990s, he spent a sabbatical year in Cambridge, England, studying John Bunyan and the early history of the Baptists. That led to his accepting an interim pastorate in Berlin, Germany; after a year there, he became the General Secretary of the European Baptist Convention. Jim and Wilma traveled all over Europe, serving as encouragers and supporters of English-language churches all over the continent.
In 2001, he returned to teaching at Hardin-Simmons University's Logsdon Seminary in Abilene, Texas. After his semi-retirement - he continued advising students on their dissertations - he moved to Massachusetts to be near his son and granddaughter. He continued his scholarship and voracious reading, and discovered new hobbies, even becoming part of a physical therapy dance group in Northampton, Massachusetts. Even when he had limited mobility, he followed his granddaughter's field hockey career with great enthusiasm.
He loved flying airplanes nearly as much as he loved preaching. In his 60s, he got his Flight Instructor rating, something he'd wanted to do for decades. He flew as a charter pilot sometimes, and possessed a passion for all things aviation - it was only bad weather which kept him from paragliding one afternoon in the Alps.
He may have called himself an Arkansas hillbilly, but those who knew him would call him a lot of other fine things, too. He leaves a legacy of young ministers, of people touched by his dedication to being a pastor, to the church, and to the ideals and beliefs that guided him. He will be greatly missed.
Funeral Services will be on Friday, November 10, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at Second Baptist Church in Monticello, Arkansas. Visitation will be one hour preceding the service at 10:00 p.m. Burial will follow in Oakland Cemetery.
You can sign Jim's guestbook here on his page.