William Oscar Lewis, affectionately known as Billy, 93, of Morton, MS, passed away on May 24, 2021. After several years of declining health, Billy died peacefully in his home. Billy was born to parents Jimmie Lee Lewis and Ollie Vaughn Lewis, on April 29, 1928 in Morton, MS. The family has entrusted Wolf Funeral Services with the arrangements. Visitation will be Wednesday May 26, 2021, from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM and Home going Service is scheduled for May, 27, 2021, at 10:00 AM at Wolf Funeral Services Chapel. A graveside service will follow at Independence Methodist Church Cemetery. Pastor Sheila Cumbest and Rev. Gary Glazier will officiate the ceremony.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William Oscar "Billy" Lewis, please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.
The only son of his family, Billy didn’t have the opportunity for much formal education. He worked hard on his family farm and worked any odd jobs he could find starting at a very young age. He graduated from Morton High School in 1945. He was proud to have taken the Dale Carnegie Leadership Course, and eagerly collected a Lifetime of Self-Education- for he was a reader and a hard-worker and owned his own electrical, poultry businesses and held a Certified Electrician's License before he was 20 years old. Most of us would also say he graduated with honors at the end of his life, with a loving family's PhD in Wisdom, Love, Support, Kindness and Goodness.
His work ethic and desire to take care of his family led to him having several great jobs throughout his career. He started off working as an Electrician at Southern Pine EPA, then as a Maintenance and Electrical Director at Pelahatchie Poultry and BC Rogers Poultry Plants. Throughout his life he worked after hours as a Private Contractor Electrician all while he had side businesses as a Cattle Farmer and Timber Farmer. In his last days, he often said, “I have worked hard all my life. Most times working 3 jobs so I could provide best for my family. I never wanted Betty Jo to have to work. I wanted her to have a good life and I feel good that I gave her that.” In addition to working 4 jobs, he was always available to take care or Maintenance and Air Conditioning/Heating for Morton United Methodist Church. After a successful career, he retired from BC Rogers in 2000, but continued working at his farm and helping out at the church anytime he was needed.
He enjoyed fishing, farming, working hard, playing cards, timber, wood-working (he made beautiful chairs and swings for his family), football, women's collegiate softball, church bus trips, family beach trips, gardening and animals - most especially his beloved dog, Hobo. His Military Service was with the Army National Guard and he was in active duty in the Korean Conflict. Early in his career he installed one of the first electric range sets in South Mississippi, in fact, he installed hundreds of electrical ranges for customers receiving electricity for the first time. He trained many homemakers to go from wood burning stoves to electrical. In 2021, he was honored with a rare Master Mason Pin for 75 years of service. Billy has received awards and recognition for his lifetime of service to church and community, but his greatest lifetime service was to his family. Therefore, his family awards him with the Loving Grandfather Award, The Loving, Loyal Husband Award, The Family Provider Award and The Most Honorable Character and Good Name Award. Morton United Methodist Church members have recently commended his many years of service to the church.
Billy met beautiful Betty Jo Lindsey in 1946. He saw a pretty red-haired girl on the school bus and it was “love at first sight.” He knew he would marry her from that point on. They dated 5 years and married when she was 18 and he was 24. They were married on June 26th, 1951, with Clyde and Audrey Marler as witnesses, at Independence Methodist Church, in Morton, MS. Together they raised 2 children: William Mark Lewis and Melissa Lewis Lynch.
William is survived by his lovely wife of 69 years Betty Jo Lindsey Lewis; one son William Mark Lewis (Lorin) of Madison, MS; daughter Melissa Lewis Lynch of Ridgeland; 4 grandchildren Lindy Lewis West (Griffin) of Hattiesburg, MS; Laura Lee Lewis Allen (Will) of Jackson, MS, Taylor Lynch Mitchell (Cole) of Gluckstadt, MS, and William Cole Lynch of Pass Christian; four great grandchildren, Vivian Elizabeth and Rosemary Lee, Summer Alyn and Mia Jaymes.
He was preceded in death by Sisters Laverne Renfrow, along with her children Gilbert and Deborah Ann Renfrow, Jimmie Ann Mashburn and Rachel Varner Tadlock, and beloved Mother-in-Law Zee Lindsey and Sisters-in-Law Kay Lindsey Carter, Ruth Lindsey Brooks and June Lindsey Claypool.
People wishing to honor Billy’s lifelong commitment to family, friends and community can make donations to Morton United Methodist Church.
The family has collected some memories and highlights to share. Mark’s favorite memories were sporting events and trips they took together. People naturally liked Billy, held him in the highest regard and loved him dearly. That is why Mark’s most admired thing about his Dad is that he was such a nice, admired, respected person and had so many friends, young and old. Melissa fondly remembers when Billy would take them fishing at their family’s pond. He would set out trot lines and rig up electricity to give them light after dark. After a day of fishing, they would take the boat out to collect their fish from the trot lines, come back to the bank and have a fish fry cooked right by the pond, under the lights he had set up. Melissa most admires that her Daddy was patient, loving, generous, kind and always willing to help others.
The grandchildren shared their favorite memories: hearing his phone call in song for every birthday, receiving money in the mail for making good grades, dancing with Lindy at her wedding, proudly escorting Taylor as a homecoming maid and being her date to father/daughter banquets, faithfully attending Taylor’s and Cole’s sporting events, taking Laura Lee to the sale barn and letting her have spending money to buy snacks, seeing their pictures proudly displayed in frames in his room, dancing with Laura Lee when she was crowned Miss Mississippi, picnics by the creek, feeding the cows and jumping hay bales at the farm, swinging on the swing at “Papa’s farm,” learning how to drive the truck and tractor in the field, eating blueberry ice milk together, watching Papa’s signature dance move called “wring the chicken’s neck” and the “Jitterbug”, catching an alligator at the pond, and him telling Laura Lee that he had stepped on a frog when he had really pooted (she believed for years frogs made that sound whenever she was with her Papa), watching him laugh so hard that his entire body shook, knowing and feeling his unconditional love, then watching him open his arms of love for their new spouses and their children. Even in his last days, while visiting with him, he wanted to hold, hug and kiss on his kids, grandkids and especially his great grandchildren, ALWAYS saying or mouthing, “I love you.”
Family and Friends also remember how he would enjoy picking on people he loved, kidding them, and how he took on the role of surrogate father for many. Recently, a church member shared a Facebook post that said, “Billy has quietly given his service to others and his Church for years. Many of us recall the years of his service to Morton UMMC by him repairing a troublesome A/C & Heat source. I am a few months older than Billy and on my 80th birthday my children gave me a party at the Church Fellowship Hall on a Sunday afternoon. Mississippi weather turned HOT on that Saturday and Betty suggested to Billy that it would be miserably hot on Sunday. Billy quickly went down to switch the church unit over, (a major job), just for me. All volunteer work. Thank you, Billy, for giving to the Lord.” There were over 200 replies on that post with loving comments like “Yes! He has given to so many!” and “He is such a sweet man!”
If you ask his family and friends who Billy Lewis was, they’ll all give you a different story. A nice guy. A generous man. A good person. A helper. An animal lover. A fun dad, uncle or friend. A friendly person. A funny prankster. A loyal husband. A provider. A good farmer. A superb grandfather. A surrogate dad. A prince. An honest businessman. Billy was all of these things - and mostly he was simply a good man who made good choices to do what is right and gained the respect of his world in exchange for it.