Willie Gilliard, son of the late Ella Richburg Gilliard and Henry Gilliard was born September 27, 1922 in Orangeburg County. Late Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Willie transitioned from this earth. He was preceded in death by four brothers, James Gilliard, Wesley Gilliard, Harry Gilliard, and Wilson Gilliard; one sister, Bertha Lee Starks; and one son, James Gilliard.
Willie grew up in the Orangeburg and Berkeley County areas where he received his early education. Even though he never finished his own education. He encouraged his children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and all young people he interacted with to get a good education.
He joined Ebenezer-Zion AME Church early in life and worked faithfully in many capacities. He became a lifelong advocate for introducing and ensuring that not only his children but many of the youth of the community attend church as well as church school. Often, he would make two or more trips transporting family and community adults and youth to church school and to church service.
He retired from the former Savannah River Plant with over thirty-five years of service. He traveled to Aiken, SC everyday tirelessly so he could provide for his family. He would come home from Aiken and work on his farm to make sure he was able to meet the needs of his family.
He was an advocate for social justice and equality. He gave a lifetime of services working to promote social justice and equality for all mankind through the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Concern Citizens of District 66 organizations as well as participation in voter registration campaigns as a driver, motivator to get people out to vote.
Those left to cherish his memories include: his daughters, Dorothy Franklin of Queens Village, NY, Annie Ruth Blassingame of Flint, MI, Betty (Ricky) McMillian of Taylors, SC, and Daphne (Francis) Walley of Eutawville, SC; one son, Bernard (Sherron) Gilliard of Lexington, SC; sisters, Katherine Brown and Mattie Watson of Holly Hill, SC, and Agnes Doctor of Newark, NJ; ten grandchildren; eleven great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.
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