She passed away at the Northwest Florida Community Hospital in Chipley, Florida, where she received excellent medical services and loving care. Born to William Washington Wester and Pencie Audry Windsor Wester on October 30, 1931, she was the last surviving and oldest of four children born to that union. Billie was born at home and grew up in Inwood, a small community that was settled and named by her father.
Billie was predeceased by her parents; her sisters, Jeanne W. Pelt and Rebekah W. Harrell; her brother, Doyle A. “Jack” Wester (wife Nell); three half-sisters, Nettye Chancey, Annette Bevis, and Elee Glisson; and one half-brother, Emmett Wester. Also predeceasing her were two nephews, Maurice (Maury) Harrell and Gregory Harrell; and one great-nephew, Luke Pelt.
In her early childhood years growing up, and continuing through adulthood, Billie was a source of strength for her family, helping her mother and three younger siblings through some hardships and challenging times in their lives. In her mother’s latest years, Billie cared for her and welcomed “Ms. Pencie” to live with her.
“Ms. Billie”, as she was sometimes affectionately called, was married to the love of her life, C. A. Dickson, on June 19, 1953. She graduated from Grand Ridge School and Florida State University. She later continued her education by obtaining her master’s degree. Billie loved working in the education field for 40 years. She began her career by working at the Florida Welcome Center in Campbellton, Florida, prior to starting her many years of service with the Jackson County School Board. She initially began teaching at Riverside Elementary School in Marianna, before transferring to Sneads Elementary School to become the county’s first curriculum specialist. Billie was immensely effective, respected and loved in her role there, so much so, that her co-workers joined together to request of the administration that she stay with them when she was transferred to Grand Ridge School as a curriculum specialist there. Her final role in the education field was her promotion to become the Director of Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Billie truly brought early childhood services to her county. She was blessed with a God-given gift of writing, which she used to aggressively write grants and seek funds to ultimately bring the Teen Parent Program and the Pre-Kindergarten programs, (Early Intervention and Head Start), to the county. Her research and hard work, grant writing, and advocacy for children and families led her to write a proposal to fund and build the Family Services Center located today on Kelson Avenue in Marianna. Billie’s heart was devoted to education to help ensure that everyone received the comprehensive services they needed to be successful in life, and she spent endless hours working to make those programs and services available. She was ultimately recognized at a conference in New York where she was presented an award given to rural educators who develop Early Intervention/Head Start programs in their counties.
Another noteworthy accomplishment was Billie’s contribution to the publication of the “Sneads Memories Book”, which preserved the history of Sneads, while benefiting the Sneads Foundation. Billie’s parents had deep roots in Jackson County, and she was devoted to partnering with others to make this special project successful. The memory book includes the history of Sneads, the log cabin, and the churches, while it also documents memories shared by the elderly residents there. Helping capture the many memories of the community was another labor of love for her.
Billie was always active in her church, Grand Ridge Baptist Church, and loved serving her Lord and Savior in every way. She was quick to give all praise to God for her blessings and to help others in their walk with the Lord, as well. She was a wonderful “sounding board” for her many family members, who called her or went to her for her godly advice, and she always helped them feel uplifted and encouraged. She cherished her church family and was a blessing to them, serving faithfully in numerous roles. She taught Sunday school and loved hosting her class at her home each year for Christmas chili and Christian fellowship. She did a beautiful job with her ministry of playing the piano and organ for church services, while also using her talent to play for countless weddings, funerals, and special events throughout the years. Billie volunteered to help with Vacation Bible School and any other special activities at her church, so that she could “bring honor and glory to God”. She truly “let others see Jesus” in her!
Additionally, Billie was a member of the Sneads Carlisle Rose Garden Club, of which her mother was a charter member. She was also a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma and the Alpha Delta Kappa educational sororities, as well as the local Chapter 129 of the Order of Eastern Star.
Billie was a regular supporter of mission work and other most worthy causes, including Campus Crusade for Christ and the Florida Baptist Children’s Home. She was a strong supporter of the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, helping initiate the Pencie W. Wester scholarship fund for deserving students there.
Survivors include her only child, her son Charles A. (Chuck) Dickson, whom she loved dearly and with her whole heart; her loving grandchildren, Charles A. (Chad) Dickson (wife Amber) and Charli D. Lanier (husband Matt) and their mother, Pam.
Also surviving were her pride and joy, her four great-grandsons: Cole A. Dickson; Caleb A. Dickson; Maverick J. Lanier, and Barrett O. Lanier. She beamed with pure joy and delight when they visited their Grandma Billie!
Other survivors include nephews, Joe Pelt and Will Wester (Patty) and their families, nieces, Penny Edwards (Terry), Sam Runfalo (Aaron), Jacquelyn McArthur (David) and Debbie Briggs (David) and their families, and the entire Dickson family. Surviving also are special friends, Anh Darbyshire, Joyce Sproul and Susan Tucker, and a host of other loving family members and friends whose lives Billie touched in the most profound and positive way, affecting and enhancing future generations to come. She made a lasting impact in the lives of others and will always be remembered as a kind, caring, special lady who put her trust in the Lord and showed His love to others. Upon hearing of her passing, countless friends have commented what a tremendous difference she made in their lives forever, and what an amazing, godly woman she was!
A celebration of the life of Billie will be 11:00 AM Thursday, May 27, 2021 at Providence Baptist Church with Revs. Caron Harn, Bobby Etheridge and Charles Kleiser officiating. Burial will follow at Carpenter Cemetery with James and Sikes Funeral Home Maddox Chapel directing.
The family will receive friends from 9:30 to 10:30 AM prior to the service at Providence Baptist Church.
Flowers will be accepted or memorial contributions made, in Billie’s memory, to the Pencie W. Wester Scholarship Fund at the Baptist College of Florida, or Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU).