Pastors' Memoirs

Billy James Edmonson, 1925 – 2006

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Bill was a very unique person. He always told me that "after God, I was next in his heart." I knew that to be true for almost 33 years. I have never known a man who loved his Lord as much as Bill. Never once in his illness (Parkinson’s disease, diagnosed in 1998) did he ever blame God or feel sorry for himself. He witnessed to the day of his "going home," just by "being there." The hospice staff told me they had never met another like him. He had a keen wit. He always kidded with them. He did everything he was asked to do until about the last two weeks before he left us when I had to witness his complete inability to do anything for himself.

No one but God was going to tell him what to preach. When one sermon ended, he was already praying, reading his Bible, for guidance to the next one. He often remarked that if it were not for having the need to eat and the daily items that required money, he would preach just for the joy of it. He actually wanted the Lord to take him home from the pulpit.

He served the Cashville Charge, the Wachapreague/Quinby Charge, and Trinity United Methodist Church, all on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. He was appointed to Wallace Memorial in Fox Hill, Hampton, for three years. Due to my dad’s illness, I wanted to return to the Eastern Shore. The only appointment open was the Greenbackville Charge. He had started out with a three-church appointment — all while attending Duke, at that time for six years. It was hard but we persevered.

He did not want to retire from another three-church appointment. But, if God was going to place him there, that’s where we would go. And, so we did. It was an appointment we enjoyed so very much. The people of Greenbackville opened their arms to us and learned to love Bill and me. I continue to have dear friends there as well as all the churches he served.

Bill was a retired Senior Chief Petty Officer of the U.S. Navy. He was navigator of the USS John F. Kennedy, the last ship he was on before retiring after two years of shore duty. He loved the Navy. He "grew up" in the Navy, he often said. His two loves were the ministry of God and the U.S. Navy.

Below is the "Prayer of Remembrance" and the people part of the "Silent Remembrance" that was read responsively at his beautiful Going Home Service.

"Gracious and loving God, we remember with great joy and thanksgiving, your faithful servant, Billy James Edmonson. We give you thanks for his life, his service to his country, and his faithful ministry to you and your people. As a husband, father, brother, grandfather, minister and friend, we thank you for the way he touched our lives. As one of your saints, his witness lingers in our lives and calls us to a life lived for others in your name. Creator God, giver of life and love, we pause now to praise you for the life, death and resurrection of Bill Edmonson."

We thank you, O God, for Bill who was a good and faithful steward of your gifts of grace. We thank you for the way he preached your word, cared for your people, and brought sinners into your grace. May he now hear your, "Well done, my good and faithful servant." May we be bold enough to follow his example.

I think the above excerpts from his service says as much as I can think of. There are so many. It would take a book to write all this Man of God did that was not known to man.

— Lorraine P. Edmonson




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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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