Jessica Sibley Upshaw, 53, passed away Sunday, March 24, 2013.  A private graveside service will be Friday, March 29.  A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 30, in Diamondhead, MS in the sanctuary of the Diamondhead Community Church at 2:00 pm with visitation beginning at 12:30 pm.  Arrangements are entrusted to Tutor Funeral Home in Mendenhall, MS.

Jessica was born on August 31, 1959, in Meridian and raised in Okolona.  After earning a bachelor of business administration and juris doctorate degrees at the University of Mississippi, Jessica followed in her father’s path in entering the legal profession.  She practiced law with firms in Winona and on the MS Gulf Coast prior to starting her own law practice specializing in worker’s compensation.

Elected to serve in the Mississippi House of Representatives in 2004, Jessica proved herself a vigorous people’s advocate as she ably represented House District 95, including Hancock and Harrison counties.  She held various committee assignments and leadership positions during her tenure with the House including Chair of the House conservation and Water Resources Committee which she held at death.  She was a leader in the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s recovery from both Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill.  She was an advocate for tourism and fiscal responsibility.

She took every opportunity to promote Mississippi.  She was active in community, social and civic affiliations, including the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Colonial Dames, the P. E. O. Sisterhood, and Cursillo.  She loved traveling and exploring other cultures around the world, accompanied by family and loved ones.  She was a strong Christian and a member of First United Methodist Church in Gulfport.

She will be remembered for her vibrant character, her passion for living and her service to the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Survivors include her daughter, Lauren Upshaw Welch; son-in-law, Thomas Stewart Welch; grandson, Porter Robert Welch; mother, Sandra Saunders Sibley; and sister, Faye Carole Sibley Cleveland.  She was preceded in death by her father, John Dale Sibley, and a brother, John Dale Sibley Jr.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Salvation Army or charity of your choice.

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