Brother Billy Blakeney
To say just the people of DeKalb would be cutting it far too short, for it was so many more that lost a true treasure this week, with the passing of Brother Billy Blakeney.
Brother Billy Blakeney was known in DeKalb as a Noble, one of the Heart of the Community people that lived a life that provided the solid foundation that the community was built upon. He was a pillar…a pillar of faith, a pillar of steadfastness, and a pillar that stood to uphold those he touched when their burdens were overwhelming, and a pillar of their bridge over troubled waters.
He was most definitely a Noble because he truly lived a lifetime of service to DeKalb. He held the greatness of character, he was driven by a generous heart and his life embodied the definitions of responsible, righteous and virtuous.
But, the thing about brother Billy Blakeney was that all of those things that made him a Noble to the citizens of DeKalb were things that made him a man of valor everywhere he went. He was the type of man that always had a smile on his face, a kind word for friends, and strangers, and a man that you could tell just by seeing him across the room was a man that had something inside of him that made him special.
I can’t say that I remember the very first time Brother Billy spoke to me, but there were many times through the years that the privilege of spending a few moments with him would come to pass. He reminded me a lot of my friend Larel Rankin.
There are many memories of him that scroll through the moving pictures of my mind, none greater than the picture shown here.
The moment was from a long list of DeKalb Chamber of Commerce banquets that he attended, and he came to a lot of them to join his fellow Nobles. There he would sit with friends like Fred Gilliam, Mary Clinton and Barry Telford as they presented the award to the next to join their ranks.
At this particular banquet, the opportunity came for me to catch him alone and snap this picture. When approached, he immediately broke into that patented Brother Billy Blakeney smile, and I had the chance to sit with him for just a few moments. As always, he was happy to be there and simply happy to be living life.
That was who he was, the man of God who shared His love.
We hope to have the life story of my friend Brother Billy Blakeney in next week’s issue of the Tribune. There is little doubt that it will be a life story filled with humble beginnings, humble days, and a lifetime of humble acts. Being who he was, he did for others without seeking recompense or notoriety, he lived the way he lived because he felt it as his calling.
Brother Billy blessed us with his presence here on Earth for 94 years. As his granddaughter Amber said, “He was a blessing to everyone who ever met him.”
The only good thing that comes from losing someone like him is the beyond a shadow of a doubt knowledge that he is now in the presence of the one he lived his life for, the one who every act of kindness was in honor of, and the one who welcomed him into Heaven with the words “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
As I reflect on my time with Bro. Billy and think about the joy that he is experiencing today, it makes me wish so much that there were more people like him. In a world filled with hate, malice and anger, the one thing we need more than anything is people that have hearts that are filled with the stuff that made up Brother Billy’s heart.
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone you met as you went through your day had the same kind of smile like he has in this picture? Wouldn’t it make our lives so much easier if the characteristics of a Noble resided in everyone?
I know that is a pipedream, because people of the same cloth as Brother Billy Blakeney are every day more rare.
I know that next year’s banquet will just not be the same without him there at that Nobles table, just as the world, without him in it, is just a little bit darker today.