Mr. Billy D. Walton, 83, of Ackerman, Mississippi passed away April 25th after a brief illness.
He was born on October 18, 1930 in Newton County, Mississippi, being the only child of Leon and Nancy Elizabeth Walton. The family later moved to the Dixon community of Neshoba County where Billy was taught at an early age to work on the farm and was given his own acre of cotton to work and manage each year, using the revenue to purchase his own “school clothes”. From the farm experiences he learned
basic life values of hard work, discipline, and literally “reaping what one sows.” He loved the farm and all of its glory – the woods, the pastures, the crops, and especially the livestock. This love continued throughout his entire lifetime as he continued to buy, sell, and trade land, timber, and livestock, particularly Tennessee Walking horses.
After high school graduation, Billy worked for a short period of time, but received his “calling” to the military in April of 1951. His hard work on the farm paid off as he completed basic training in only fourteen weeks. After extensive leadership training, he was sent with the 24th Army Infantry Division to Korea, where he fought on the front lines on top of Heartbreak Ridge in North Korea where the temperature was 30-40 degrees below zero. Upon receiving his orders to go home, he truly considered it a miracle from God, as many of his comrades “didn’t make it”. From his experiences in North Korea, Billy learned never to take his blessings for granted and to thank God daily for them.
Shortly after returning to Mississippi from Korea, he enrolled at East Mississippi Community College, then transferred to Mississippi State University earning his Bachelor of Science Degree and Master’s Degree in Agriculture.
Billy began his career teaching agriculture, then worked with the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service as an Assistant County Agent in Winston County until 1962, then was promoted to County Agent in Choctaw County where he worked until his retirement in 1987. The most rewarding aspect of his job was getting to know the farmers and their families on a personal basis which resulted in life-long friendships.
Mr. Billy, as he was fondly called by many friends, also enjoyed a lifetime of Christian and civic service. He was an active member of Louisville, Ackerman, and South Union Methodist churches where he served as a Sunday school teacher for over 40 years. He also served as a church lay leader, a lay speaker, and was a Gideon. He was also a Rotarian and served as the first Economic Development Director of Choctaw County.
After retirement, Billy was blessed with good health and was able to spend most of his time in the great outdoors, traveling to the Smoky Mountains, and frequenting many horse-shows throughout the Southeast, where he was often Master of Ceremonies. He lovingly cared for his horses, riding them on a regular basis, and took much pride in perfectly groomed pasture land and fences – home for his beloved horses.
Billy was a gifted speaker, with a deep, slow, southern drawl and was regularly invited as the guest speaker for many civic, church, and political events, always being meticulously prepared.
Above all, Billy’s most cherished moments were spent in private time with God and time spent with his family and dear friends, especially his two grandsons.
He is survived by one daughter, Patti Walton Guerry of Columbus, MS; a son-in-law, Paul Guerry of Columbus, MS; one grandson, Jonathan Guerry of Hattiesburg, MS; and a host of cousins.
He was preceded in death by a grandson, Walton Matthew Guerry; his wife, Leola Waddell Walton; Helen Turnipseed Walton; and his parents, Leon and Nancy Elizabeth Hillman Walton.
A Memorial Service was held at Ackerman Baptist Church at 2:00 P.M., Saturday, May 3rd with visitation from 12:00 – 2:00 prior to the service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made to the church of one’s choice, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, the American Cancer Society, or the North American Mission Board.