For one week in his life, Richard Armstrong was not happy with George "Bubba" Hampton Jr.
One day, in the summer of 1966, awaiting a letter from his close friend while at Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Virginia, Armstrong noticed his drill instructor, who was passing out mail, suddenly stop.
“He asked, ‘Who knows a Bubba from Mississippi?’ Of course I raised my hand and it was then that he lost his temper, which was never a good thing, and he threw the envelope at me,” Armstrong recalled.
He was horrified when he looked at the letter and saw that it was addressed to “General Richard Armdaddy Armstrong” with stars circling his name. For the next several days, Armstrong, who eventually reached the rank of corporal during his time in boot camp, endured the wrath of his drill instructor as he took flak for the joke. He wrote back to Hampton to tell him not to send anymore letters.
It’s a fond memory for Armstrong, who wound up laughing about it with Hampton for years after.
“I forgave him of course,” he said. “For 53 years he loved to tell that story, and he told me that the punishment made me a stronger and tougher Marine, thereby contributing to my career.”
Mr. Hampton died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer at the age of 74. A successful athlete, banker and community leader, he is remembered for the full life he lived and the contributions he made in Meridian.
Northwood Country Club head golf pro Billy Pomeroy said Mr. Hampton loved people, loved life and wanted to build relationships.
“When you walked into the bank or the club, he knew your name, he knew everything about you and your family and probably knew your pet’s name,” Pomeroy said. “He wanted to know how everyone was doing.”
Mr. Hampton played football at Meridian High School and went on to play as an offensive lineman at Mississippi State, where he graduated in 1966. He was inducted into the university’s hall of fame 30 years later.
After finishing school, he went into banking, and eventually became president of the Meridian branch of Trustmark National Bank and executive vice president of Community Bank.
“He was a great boss and an even better friend, and that’s unusual,” said Archie Anderson, former president of Trustmark who worked for Hampton. “Trustmark being a community bank that wanted to make contributions to the community, Bubba was involved in so many things, and took leadership roles in them. He managed the bank for several years and managed it successfully, was a good banker and was certainly recognized in the community as a good banker.”
Active in the community, Mr. Hampton served as the voluntary president of United Way of East Mississippi and helped in fundraising events for Boy Scouts, the Rotary Club of Meridian and First Presbyterian Church Meridian, where he was a lifelong member, as well as for many local sports organizations. He was also a high school football referee.
“He was a positive person in the city of Meridian, and that’s what we need right here,” said Jack Combest, a friend who is part of the company Hampton golfed with. “He would go out of his way to do anything in the world for anybody. He’ll be sorely missed in our golf group.”
Armstrong, a friend of Mr. Hampton’s for more than six decades since their days playing Little League at Shamrock Field next to Kate Griffin Junior High School, said Hampton was dedicated to everything he did.
“He was always smiling and living life to the fullest,” he said. “Everyone had the utmost respect and admiration for Bubba Hampton.”
Funeral services are scheduled at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at First Presbyterian Church Meridian.