He was a nationally respected editorial writer, a lover of books, libraries, courthouses, dogs, old maps, globes and thrift stores. He was a Vietnam War veteran, and a student of Mississippi history.
Tony was born in Pontotoc, MS, on May 15, 1952, the son and of Ray and Dot Biffle, one of eight children. His brother Mike explained that though the family didn't have anything extra, they didn't lack anything, and Dot had "special" dishes she fixed for each of the eight.
One of her signature dishes was tenderloin with biscuits and gravy, Tony's favorite that she called "Tonyloin."
Wherever he lived through the years, he always came home to his Mother's table, and until her death in 2009 Tony called Dot each and every day.
After high school, he volunteered for the U.S. Army, and served a tour of duty in Vietnam, where he was an information specialist in the DaNang Sector.
He was the only volunteer in his platoon. All of the other members were draftees.
For his service in the war he received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two service stars and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
After his five years in the Army it was on to (what was then) Memphis State University where he received a bachelor's degree in journalism.
His newspaper career included 15 years at the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, most of which included his duties as a copy editor and page designer.
He joined the Sun Herald as a copy editor but soon he was promoted to the editorial pages where he enjoyed a distinguished career, winning national awards for his clear and forceful editorials.
He was known for his fine reporting techniques, digging deep to find the additional facts and detail that helped underscore his sharp, and fair, opinions.
Tony's editorials were noted for their insight and clarity, taking complex and dense issues and crafting editorials that were understandable to all.
In August of 2005, and the time of Hurricane Katrina, Tony rose to the challenge of the devastation and death that had arrived on our shore.
On the day before Katrina came ashore, he wrote a front page editorial that spoke of the plight faced by all across South Mississippi and beyond, in these powerful and prophetic words of:
The Power of Prayer....and plywood
Prayer and plywood now stand between us and the greatest threat to South Mississippi from a hurricane since Camille.
But unlike Camille, the slow approach of Katrina has provided us with time to prepare or flee. For that, we can be truly thankful.
By now, there is little if any opportunity left for preparations. Evacuation is all but out of the question.
Those who have chosen to remain are expected to experience one of the greatest furies that nature can unleash.
The storm is almost certain to change the face of South Mississippi forever.
But our communities have experienced such devastation before. Camille also forever altered many of our lives and much of our landscape.
Enduring such a calamity is part of our collective heritage. Whatever challenges Katrina presents us, we are confident that they too will be met with similar resolve.
We at the Sun Herald are as concerned as anyone about what this day may bring. But we have no doubt that, with time, whatever can be done will be done to restore our way of life.
Until then, may all the plywood hold.
And may all our prayers be answered.
In the days and months that followed, his editorials were the voice of hope and possibility across our devastated homeland, and they advocated for help and attention from our fellow Americans, who responded magnificently.
His editorials were a part of the Sun Herald's journalism recognized by the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, and along with two colleagues was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in editorial writing.
The Pulitzer Board recognized that writing for its poignancy and authority.
Tony also was awarded the prestigious National Walker Stone Award for the Scripps Howard Foundation, and numerous first place awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press.
Tony retired from the Sun Herald in 2015, and enjoyed these latter years with his beloved wife, Rita. Tony and his daughter also rescued a dog named Zoey that became the family pet. The family enjoyed traveling South Mississippi to attend estate sales, and frequently went to thrift stores searching for old books and vintage paper items.
He is preceded in death by Sarah Katharine "Kate" Biffle, his daughter; Ray and Dot Biffle, his parents; Loyce Judd and Beatrice Hadaway Russell, his grandparents; Claude and Grace Biffle, his grandparents; and Trey Edwards, his nephew.
He is survived by Rita Biffle, his wife; Sharon Morris, his sister; Lonnie Morris, his brother in law; Russell "Russ" Biffle, his brother; Evelyn Biffle, his sister in law; Mike Biffle, his brother; Cindy Sexton, his sister; Claude Sexton, his brother in law; Christy Ray, his sister; Randy Ray, his brother in law; Scott Biffle, his brother; Dana Biffle, his sister in law; Carla Wooten, his sister; Hootie Wooten; his brother in law; Len Pitts, his stepchild; Melinda Pitts, his stepchild; Benjamin Pitts, his stepchild; Alexis Pitts, his step grandchild; Benjamin Pitts, his step grandchild; Elizabeth Pitts, his step grandchild and a host of nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Nov. 5. Visitation with the family will be from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Riemann Memorial Funeral Home, 274 Beauvoir Road, Biloxi. A prayer will end the visitation at the funeral home. Graveside services and burial will be at 2:15 p.m. at Biloxi National Cemetery, 400 Veterans Avenue in Biloxi.
Pallbearers at the funeral will be brothers, Russ Biffle, Mike Biffle and Scott Biffle; brothers in law, Lonnie Morris, Randy Ray and Claude Sexton "Hootie" Wooten; and friends Paul Hampton and Blake Kaplan.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the local Humane Society and/or Goodwill.
RIEMANN FAMILY FUNERAL HOME, 274 Beauvoir Rd., Biloxi, is serving the family. An online obituary may be viewed at www.riemannfamily.com.
Stacy leaves to cherish his memories: Veronica and his four children: Stacy Jerrod Finley, Corey Juwan Finley, Richard LeRyon Finley, and Larren Garcelle Finley all of Shelbyville, TN; his mother Mallie Jean Finley of Pontotoc, MS; two brothers John Ray Finley of Pontotoc, MS and Jarious (Jaynine) Jackson of Canada and Houston, TX; three sisters Sonja (David) Ortiz of Fredericksburg, VA, Rolicia Finley of Murfreesboro, TN, and Angelia (Rev. Chesteen) Wilson of Belden, MS; his brother-in-law Jason McBride of Tuscaloosa, AL, eight nieces, seven nephews, a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives, and friends, his favorite Uncle Melvin Lipsey, affectionately known as "UNC", his best friends Raymond Evans and Brian Coker, and many others that are considered brothers.
Visitation will be Friday, November 1, 2019, from 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm at Payton Mortuary. Family hour will be from 5-6 pm. Funeral service will be Saturday, November 2, 2019, at 11:00 am at Pontotoc Second Baptist Church. Viewing will be available one hour prior to service. Interment will follow at St. Paul MB Church Cemetery in Ecru, MS. Services entrusted to Payton Mortuary.
Services were Sunday, November 3, at Friendship Baptist Church, with Rev. Brock McWhirter and Rev. Casey Hughes officiating; burial was in the Pleasant Grove Cemetery. Browning Funeral Home in Pontotoc was honored to assist the family with the arrangements.
Survivors include her daughter, Lea Ann Roye Thomas (Russell) of Tupelo, MS; one brother, Nickey McWhirter (Carolyn) of Ecru, MS; a grandson, Brick Thomas of Tupelo, MS and several nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Wayne Roye; one sister, Robbie Gregory; and three brothers, Pete McWhirter, Joe MCWhirter and Howard Max McWhirter.
Pallbearers will be Mike McWhirter, Randy McWhirter, Scott Garrett, Allen Roye, Chuck Roye, Ferrell Gates and Ted Windham.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Sanctuary Hospice House, P.O. Box 2177, Tupelo, MS 38803.
Condolences may be offered at www.browningpontotoc.com
Mrs. Ruth, a Christian lady, member of Berea Baptist Church was dedicated to her family, she opened her home to everyone and loved cooking. Those she leaves behind to cherish her memory include her daughters, LaWanda (Eddie) Moncrief of Hernando, MS and Vickie (Brad) Barefoot of Charleston, MS; her grandchildren Brian Morris, Ashley Toth and Bryan Moncrief; her great-grandchildren Nicolas Morris, Greyson Tubbs and Breylon Toth.
Mrs. Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, James Lloyd McKnight; her parents Amos and Ozella Burk; her sisters Earlene McKnight and Dorothy Parker; her brothers Evoy Burk and Lavoy Burk. Her family requests you consider memorial contributions to The American Heart Association or The Cancer Foundation. Newsom Funeral Home
Age 93 years, a native of Lambert, MS and resident of Houma, LA. Mary Alice volunteered for the US Navy during World War II and served in a secretarial capacity for two years. She later worked as a secretary for several companies and ended her career as a real estate agent. Mary Alice was a member of the First Baptist Church of Marrero and supportive wife of L J who served as a Deacon for 55 years.
Relatives and Friends of the Family are invited to attend the Funeral Service at First Baptist Church of Marrero, 4001 7th St, Marrero, LA on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at 1 p.m. Visitation will be held at church from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Interment Westlawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Gretna, LA. To view and sign the online guestbook visit www.mothefunerals.com.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, November 6, 2019 at Browning Funeral Home in Pontotoc with Rev. Fletcher Moorman officiating; burial will follow in the Pontotoc Memorial Gardens. Browning Funeral Home in Pontotoc is honored to assist the family with the arrangements.
Survivors include her children, Dana Carol Cottam and Charles Wesley Walls and wife Christy; one sister, Kaye Reeder Blount; two brothers, Bill Reeder and wife Paula and Pete Reeder and wife Marsha; six grandchildren, Alexandra Willis Fleming, Colton Walls, Jennifer Mallette, Jayden Cottam, Kaylee Cottam and Claire Cottam; and two great-grandchildren, Leo Willis Fleming and Wesley Shepherd Willis Fleming.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
Pallbearers will be Justin Reeder, Keith Reece, Patrick Bedgood, John Reeder, Colton Walls and Tommy Sneed.
Visitation will be Wednesday from 12 to 2 p.m. at the funeral home.
Condolences may be offered at www.browningpontotoc.com