Natchez, Miss.--Robert Percy Mims Jr., owner of Robert Mims Jewelers, died Jan. 22 at his home in Natchez, Mississippi. He was 96.

Mims was a Gemological Institute of America graduate gemologist, and an American Gem Society registered jeweler and certified gemologist. He was a “Jeweler of the Year” and past president of the Mississippi Jewelers Association.

Among his many accomplishments in the jewelry industry was his selection as one of 26 jewelers in North America to create a pair of cufflinks for the American Gemstones Jewelry Collection as part of a partnership between AGS and the Smithsonian Institute. The cufflinks are still on display at the Smithsonian in Washington.

Born on Feb. 19, 1921 in Crystal Springs, Mississippi and raised in Jackson, Mims studied aeronautical engineering at Mississippi State University then joined the Army Air Corps in 1941.

Mims flew 26 combat missions before he was shot down over France on his last mission on Feb. 5, 1944. Captured by the Germans, he was a prisoner of war in Barth, Germany on the Baltic Sea near Poland.

He returned home in April 1945 after the war was over. He then married Virginia Price and continued to serve in the Air Force, earning numerous honors. 

He went on to study horology, hand-engraving, jewelry design, jewelry repairs, jewelry manufacturing and business at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois after retiring from the military. He graduated with honors.

He and his family moved to Natchez to manage Herman’s Jewelers in 1952. In 1954, Mims opened and managed the jewelry department at Dixon’s, where he worked until he and his family opened their own store on Main Street in downtown Natchez in 1965.

Mims was preceded in death by his wife, and is survived by his six children, among other family members.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers memorial donations be made to Home with Heroes Foundation Helping Local Veterans at homewithheroes.org; Trinity Episcopal Church, 305 S. Commerce St., Natchez, MS 39120, or Cathedral School.

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