He was born Aug. 24, 1916, in Dogwood, Mo., son of the late Philip James Ponder Sr. and Ruthie Orlena Boyd Ponder.
Ponder was a member of Centenary United Methodist Church and a former member of First United Methodist Church in Sikeston, Mo., and First United Methodist Church in Charleston, Mo., where he served on the church board and was also a MYF leader.
He owned and operated Ponder Chevrolet Buick and Ponder Equipment Co., which was a distributor for Thomas Built Buses in Charleston. In 1980, he sold the business to his son, Jim, and worked for him several years.
Ponder was a member of Charleston Chamber of Commerce, Cub Scout and Boy Scout leader for Troop and Pack 41 in Sikeston.
He served three terms as mayor of Charleston, served on the city council, was a Missouri Colonel under Warren E. Hearnes, named Charleston Man of the Year in 1965, and worked tirelessly to bring Stark Manufacturing and Gates to Charleston.
He loved to be called "Uncle P.J."
On Dec. 15, 1935, at the Methodist parsonage in Dexter, Mo., he married Evelyn Lankford. They were married 73 years. She survives of the home.
Other survivors include two sons and daughters-in-law, James Edward "Jim" and Sarah Ponder of Charleston, Philip Joseph and Nancy Ponder of Luling, La.; a daughter-in-law, the Rev. Carolyn Jo Ponder of Southlake, Texas; seven grandchildren, Mike (Connie) Ponder of Cape Girardeau, Ann (Chuck) Simpson of Paducah, Ky., Lorie Ann (Jim) Moravec of Southlake, Steve Ponder of California, Leia (Ben) Milster, Gina Ponder and Philip Joseph "P.J" Ponder Jr. all of Luling; seven great-grandchildren, Ryan Ponder, Emily Ponder and Matt Ponder, all of Cape Girardeau, Katie Simpson of Paducah, Jolee Minor, Olivia Moravec and Lauren Moravec, all of Southlake.
He was preceded in death by a son, Lee Ponder; a grandson, Charles Lee "Pete" Ponder Jr.; and 13 brothers and sisters.
Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. today at Ponder Funeral Home in Sikeston.
The funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at First United Methodist Church in Sikeston. The Rev. Carolyn Jo Ponder and the Rev. Geoff Posegate will officiate. Burial will follow in Dogwood Cemetery at Dogwood.
Memorial donations may be made to First United Methodist Church, 1307 N. Main St,, Sikeston, Mo., 63801, or Missouri Delta Medical Center, 1008 N. Main St., Sikeston, Mo., 63801.