Obituaries » Billie Mae Moses Gilmore
Billie Mae Moses Gilmore, beloved Mother, Grandmother, Great Grandmother and Mother-in-Law, went to join her Heavenly Father and all of her family already with Him on February 27, 2022.
Billie was born on July 6th, 1927 in Narrows, Virginia. Her parents were the late Compton Black Moses and Edna Lucille Elmore Moses. She was given her first name Billie in honor of her Mother’s Best Friend, a Midwife who assisted with her birth. Her middle name Mae came from her Mother’s Sister, Regina Mae Elmore Hendricks. Billie was the fourth of five children. Her siblings were Lois Jane Moses Nelson, Betty Lee Moses, Eleanor Lucille Moses Mathena, and Compton Raymond (Buddy) Moses, all of whom pre-deceased her. Her Grandfather Moses was a Circuit Rider Preacher for the Southern Methodist Conference who regularly rode a horse from his farm in Shawsville to Ripplemeade, Virginia to speak at Churches and Tent Meetings along the way.
Billie’s Father had to move frequently to find work, so her family lived in Bluefield, Newhoward and War, West Virginia. She often said: “We were poor so far as material things went, but there was always lots of love to make up for it.” Due to experiencing recurring respiratory infections as a young child, she went to live with her Mother’s parents, Granddaddy and Grandmother Elmore in Pocahontas, Virginia when Billie was in the Third Grade. Granddaddy Elmore was a Coal Miner, so Billie was able to receive medical care from the Coal Company’s Doctor, which helped with her health problems. Her grandparents were hard working people and devoted Christians. Growing up Billie’s life revolved around her Church and School. She also loved helping Granddaddy Elmore tend to his garden and pig, although both were located more than a mile’s walk from the Elmore home. Granddaddy Elmore usually carried the tools to work the garden, which left Billie lugging the “Slop Bucket” used to feed the pig. The Elmore home was a five room house that was owned by the Pocahontas Coal Company.
Billie’s Father eventually bought a Dry Cleaning business, which had been his lifelong dream. But within a year of purchasing it he was killed in an automobile accident. Lucille and three of Billie’s siblings then moved in with the Elmore’s, putting ten people in a five room house that for many years had no indoor bathroom and relied upon a wood stove for cooking and heating.
Lucille had only finished two years of High School before marrying, and there weren’t many job opportunities for her after Billie’s Father died. Since the $90 Social Security paid Lucille each month wasn’t enough to live on, Billie went to work at age 14 as a Switchboard Operator for the Bluefield Telephone Company to help support her family. Two years later, thanks entirely to God’s Providence, Billie’s Uncle Lucian, a Greyhound Bus Driver, found a job for Lucille in Pearisburg, Virginia, and the family moved there in 1943. Lucille and Billie both worked at the local Drug Store before being hired by the C&P Telephone Company as Switchboard Operators. Lucille quickly became the Group Chief Operator, making her Billie’s boss. Billie’s Diary states that Lucille “was harder on me than anyone else” but she persevered and worked at C&P for 35 years, retiring in 1978 with a Pension and lifetime Health Insurance Benefits.
Billie graduated from Pearisburg High School on June 5th, 1945. There were 25 in her Senior Class. Her Class Motto was: “If the elevator to success isn’t running, take the stairs!”
Soon after moving to Pearisburg Billie met her future husband, Richard H. (Dick) Gilmore, Sr., while working at the Drug Store. The two were the same age, but Dick and his best friend left High School after 11th Grade to enlist in the US Navy to fight in World War II. Before he left for Boot Camp at Great Lakes, Illinois Billie promised Dick that she would marry him “if and when he survived the war and graduated from both High School and College”. Properly motivated, Dick served out his tour, got his High School and College Diplomas, and formally proposed to Billie.
Billie and Dick were married on September 30th, 1949. The Ceremony was performed by Billie’s Grandfather Willis Jackson Moses, the Circuit Riding Preacher, when he was 81. After honeymooning at Natural Bridge, the young couple packed their suitcases and loaded them into Dick’s shiny new car and headed up Route 29 to Washington, DC. They loved living in “The District”, where Dick worked at a CPA Firm during the day and at two different “Service Stations” at night and on weekends. Billie worked for C&P, and all was well until she became pregnant with their first child. In November of 1950, after an extremely nauseous day, she told Dick when he came home from work that “Carrying this baby is likely going to kill me. If I’m going to die, I want to be at home with my Mother!” Not expecting anything to come from a remark made under the duress of sickness, she was totally surprised when Dick told her, upon returning from work the next day, to “Pack your bags. I’ve quit my three jobs and terminated our apartment lease. We’re moving back to Pearisburg!” The only problem was that neither of them had jobs lined up in Pearisburg. But they packed up and headed back down Route 29.
As so often happened in their married life, God had a plan for them when they didn’t have one. That same week Lucille had dinner with the Chairman of the Board of Giles Memorial Hospital, who told her the hospital was looking to hire an Assistant Administrator with an accounting degree and good financial skills. Dick interviewed and was promptly hired for the job. C&P transferred Billie from DC back to Pearisburg. So within two weeks both were working again.
Their first child (Ritch) was born early in 1951. Thirty-six months after that their second child (Debbie) arrived. In July of 1958 they were blessed with their third child (Michael).
Billie and Dick were incredible parents – very loving and always there for their children. They also set behavioral expectations and enforced them as needed. C&P was very “family friendly” to working mothers when it came to scheduling. Billie typically worked “Split Shifts” (four hours during the day and then another four hours at night, which let her spend part of the day at home with her children). Dick then kept the children when Billie worked her evening hours.
In addition to providing a stable home environment for their children to grow up in, Billie and Dick worked hard to have what the family needed and a little bit more on occasion, without being extravagant. Good planning and sound budgeting was essential to the family’s financial survival. Billie was the family bookkeeper and check writer. From the first paycheck he earned until the last paycheck he drew, Dick never cashed any of his checks or Billie’s. All checks were given to Billie to deposit. She then used them to pay bills and to buy food, clothes, etc. Billie was a fantastic bookkeeper, although there were times where she had to “rob Peter to pay Paul” when juggling the funds that were available to cover the family’s expenses. In all her years of handling the family’s finances, she only bounced one check. Whenever she told that story, she emphasized that “the bounced check was the Bank’s error, not mine.”
Many wonderful memories were created while Billie and her family lived in Pearisburg. After turning down three Hospital Administrator jobs, Dick became the Assistant Administrator at Lynchburg General Hospital in March of 1963. The family moved here, where Billie and Dick continued to devote themselves to raising their children. They built a new home in Lynchburg. Dick drew the building plans for it, as he had done when they built their home in Pearisburg.
One of the best moments in Billie’s life occurred one morning a few years later. The family’s finances had improved enough over time to allow for having two cars instead of being forced to share one. Dick liked to trade vehicles on a regular basis, so the two cars were usually fairly new. One evening when he and Billie were discussing when they were going to replace the older of their two cars (which happened to be the one that Billie was driving), Dick threw her a curve ball she never saw coming. One of her dreams had been to have a swimming pool, but she never thought this would be possible. But much to her surprise Dick told her he had been doing some number crunching and if she was willing to keep her car for another two or three years he felt they could afford to build an in-ground swimming pool. Well, it didn’t take Billie long to make that decision, and within a few months the swimming pool became a reality. It brought Billie great joy, and it provided the family with countless “priceless memories”.
To Billie and Dick Lynchburg was a great place to raise their family, and over the years Dick turned down other Hospital Administrator opportunities so that the family could stay here.
Billie and Dick became active members of Peakland United Methodist Church. The family regularly attended Minor League Baseball games at City Stadium. Michael’s favorite Major League Baseball Team was the Cincinnati Reds, so for several years Billie and Dick took the family to Cincinnati to watch three or four Reds’ games each summer.
Billie was always tall for her age, so she played High School Basketball and was chosen to be the Team Captain her Junior and Senior seasons. Billie and Eleanor attended different high schools that competed in the same District. Billie always said “Eleanor was much better than me; I hated having to play against her!”
Before taking up Basketball in high school Billie had frequently played baseball and softball. She was an extraordinary hitter. Since all of our family loved playing baseball, we often went to a local baseball field where Dick would pitch, Billie, Debbie and Michael would hit, and Ritch would play the outfield. When Billie batted it was a treat to run after the fly balls she would hit. It was like shagging fly balls for the batters at the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby. Billie hit almost every pitch into the air and deep; rarely was there a ground ball.
Billie and Dick enjoyed traveling. Billie especially enjoyed going to Williamsburg and Virginia Beach with Dick. The family took wonderful vacations to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and two trips to Daytona Beach, Florida. And twice to Disneyworld in Orlando Florida after the grandchildren came along.
Billie and Dick were amazing grandparents to Richard Charles and Gina Marie. For several years Billie (“Grama” as the grandchildren called her) kept Gina Marie after school until her Dad came home from work. She was like a second mother to Gina Marie after Debbie died from metastatic melanoma when Gina Marie was not yet five years old.
Billie faced and overcame other tragedies during her life. The most traumatic was when Michael died as a result of a gun accident at age 14. Later she lost Dick to cancer when he was only 71 after being a caregiver to him for over five years. Dick’s death, and Lucille’s death only three weeks later, left a huge void in her life, but she gradually adjusted to losing her husband and her mother. She became even closer to her sisters, especially Betty and Eleanor, who lived within driving distance of Lynchburg.
Unfortunately Billie’s joints aged much faster than the rest of her body, and osteoarthritis severely impacted her mobility. Dr. Eschenroeder’s gifted surgical skills bought her some additional time to remain mobile and live independently. But despite her fierce determination to “go it alone”, eventually she got to the point where she needed help from others to perform many of her daily activities.
Those who knew and loved Billie witnessed, day in and day out, a constant thread throughout her almost 95 years of life – an unwavering faith in God and the steadfast belief that He had a divine plan for her life. Billie believed that everything happens for a reason and that God was sovereign over ALL of the events in her life – both good and bad. Things happened to accomplish His plan and His purpose for her life. Billie was firmly convinced, up to the moment that she passed from life to death and to eternity with her Lord and Savior, that the best thing she could do was to pray, and then trust and obey, and stay strong in her faith that the Lord would never leave her or forsake her, but would hold her life and soul in His loving arms, and would never let go of her here, or in the world and life hereafter.
Billie wanted anyone who read her Obituary to know that her greatest joy in life was her love of God, followed by her love for her husband, children, grandchildren and great grandchild. Her love of her In-Law Children was that of a mother.
Billie is survived by her Son, Richard H. (Ritch) Gilmore, Jr. and his wife Nadine, Son-In-Law William G. McChesney, Grandson Richard Charles Gilmore, Granddaughter Gina Marie McChesney, and Great Granddaughter Ava Lynn McChesney.
Billie was pre-deceased by her loving husband Richard H. (Dick) Gilmore, Sr.; her Daughter, Deborah Gilmore McChesney; and her Son, Michael Dale Gilmore. Throughout her life Billie was very close to her Sisters and Brother – Lois Nelson, Betty Moses, Eleanor Mathena and C.R. (Buddy) Moses, all of whom pre-deceased her.
Billie was blessed to have had many wonderful friends whom she greatly enjoyed. She will be dearly missed by all who loved her.
For the last six and a half years Billie had to depend upon the hands and hearts of loving and dedicated Caregivers to help her with, or in many cases to do for her, the everyday things of life that she had previously been able to do for herself. There were SO MANY caring individuals who played an important role in Billie’s life – Doctors, Nurses, Nursing Assistants, Therapists, Dietary, Housekeeping, Maintenance, Social Workers, Chaplains, Administrators and others not listed here, that Billie and her family wish to thank. To each and every one of you who did the best you could for her, who truly cared about her well being and dedicated yourself to doing whatever Billie needed, we express our heartfelt gratitude and deepest appreciation to you.
A Celebration of Billie’s Life will be held at Peakland United Methodist Church on Tuesday, March 8th at 2:00 PM, with a Reception to follow at the Church.
Billie’s body will lie in repose at Tharp Funeral Home until 12 noon on Tuesday, March 8th, for viewing by friends and family at their convenience.
Memorial contributions may be made to Peakland United Methodist Church, Centra Alan B. Pearson Regional Cancer Center or New Covenant Schools.
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