Billie Sue Long, was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the only child of John and Maudie Sadler. As a child she lived in Little Rock, Arkansas and Jackson, Mississippi until her family moved to her grandmother’s farm located halfway between Bruce and Houlka in Calhoun County. She credits her grandmother, Esther Collums as the greatest spiritual influence in her life. Billie Sue attended Bruce schools and graduated valedictorian of the class of 1951. Other highlights of Billie’s school years were playing the lead in her senior class play, playing the piano for her small country church and a senior piano recital. Billie attended the University of Mississippi during the summer after high school planning on a major in English.
She met Harold Long in high school and they were married in August of 1951 while Harold was on leave from the Navy. Harold and Billie Sue started their married life at the naval base in San Diego CA, where they lived until Harold’s destroyer was sent to Korea. Billie who was expecting their first child, Vicki Cheryl moved back home with her parents and widowed grandmother until Harold’s return.
When Harold was discharged from the Navy, they purchased 40 acres near her grandmother’s land in Calhoun County. Their second daughter, Kerry Susan was born on April 19, 1955 with spina bifida, surviving only three months. Jeffrey Harold was born on August 30, 1956. Harold and Billie were very active at Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church. Billie organized and led Vacation Bible Schools, even going out into the community to pick up children without a way to attend.
Harold and his father-in-law opened an OK Rubber Welders in Houston MS and several years later opened another OK Tire Store in Aberdeen MS, which led to the family moving to Aberdeen in 1962. Billie Sue was the bookkeeper and secretary for the tire store until they sold the business and retired. Several people commented that they could never work for their husbands. Billie said that she didn’t work for her husband, but that she worked with him.
After moving to Aberdeen Billie and Harold joined the First Baptist Church. Over the years, they taught children’s Sunday School, Training Union, adult Sunday School classes and chaperoned youth trips. Billie had a special gift for making people feel welcomed and accepted in the classes she taught.
Billie’s fondest lifelong hobby was reading. She also enjoyed growing calla lilies, petunias and violets in Calhoun County in addition to a large vegetable garden, then roses on Meadowlane Drive in Aberdeen. She enjoyed cooking and baking and usually took her strawberry cake to church and family functions. A later favorite past time was playing Mexican Train Dominoes in accordance with Becker Bottom Rules, which meant that they and family members made up their own rules.
Harold and Billie enjoyed many trips with Harold’s brothers and sisters to Gatlinburg and Branson and cruises. Being an only child, Billie thought of her sisters-in-law as her own sisters, which included Roberta Long (Fred), Carolyn Jean Long (Bobby), Patricia Long (Charles), Carolyn Long Kimbrell (Johnny), Virginia Long Mitchell (Ralph) and Dian Long (Larry). After Harold had been stationed at Pearl Harbor, during his Navy days, he had wanted Billie to see Hawaii too. Harold and Billie’s trip of a lifetime was a Hawaiian cruise with their dear friends, Rev. Ferrell and Billie Cork.
After selling their house in Aberdeen, retirement years were spent in their dream home that they built on the Aberdeen Lake off the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway, hosting family holidays and get-togethers until Harold’s death in October 2021. The following year, Billie moved into Brookdale Assisted Living, near her daughter in Clinton. She enjoyed meeting friends for meals and other activities, along with family visits. While she was not initially enthusiastic about leaving her home in Monroe County, she mentioned many times that Brookdale was a really nice place and she had decided that she would be happy there.
Billie Sue Long is survived by her children, Vicki Long Williams (Lynn) and Jeff Long; grandchildren, Kara Williams, Lindsey Williams Duncan (Alex), and Wyeth Long; step-grandchildren, Canon and Robin Benefield; great-grandchildren, Alex Burr, Caleb and Noah Duncan. She is preceded in death by her husband of 70 years, Harold Long and daughter Kerry Long.
Billie was especially known for being a sweet person and she had a smile that lit up a room. She repeatedly told her children, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” When asked what her favorite Bible verses were, she recited two verses: Romans 8:28, which says,” And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” and 1 Corinthians 2:9, which says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” The hymn, “We Will Understand It Better By and By” came to her mind often.
Visitation will be on Saturday, August 5, 2023 from 10:00-11:00 am at First Baptist Church in Aberdeen. Funeral Services will be at 11:00 am with Rev. Hamp Valentine officiating. Burial will be at 2:30 pm at Collums Cemetery in Calhoun County.
Many thanks to the wonderful private caregivers, caregivers from Lifeline Companions, for Brookdale Assisted Living and Gentiva (formerly Kindred) Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, bequests may be made to Aberdeen First Baptist Church (P.O. Box 723), the March of Dimes or any charity of your choice. Billie supported many ministries and charities.