Billy Leadford Merritt

Published 10:06 am Friday, February 10, 2017

Billy Leadford Merritt of Gainesvilla, Ga. died on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 after a lengthy illness.

He was born on Sept. 30, 1939 in Franklin County, Ga., the second of nine children born to the late Darby and Dorris Scott Merritt. He spent his formative years in Carnesville, Ga. and graduated from Union Grove High School in 1957, where he was a member of the basketball team. In 1959, he met Lola Faye Owens. They were married in Gainesville in 1960, and were parents to Timothy Wayman, Stacie Lorraine, Barry Ray and Garry Kay. They attended Mt. Calvary Church of God Holiness in Gainesville, where he served as a deacon for several years. In 2004, he became a member of Seeking the Truth Ministries. He was a licensed commercial truck driver and worked for Gainesville area companies delivering construction materials. He retired from Builders Way in 2007. Known as “Papa” to his grandchildren and “Shine” to close family and friends, he was an animated storyteller. He often entertained family with stories about growing up with his siblings and the things he had seen in his work life. His sense of humor brought laughter. He enjoyed gardening, taking pride in sharing with family and friends.

He was also preceded in death by: his children, triplets Keithan, Kevin and Kerry (died in childbirth in 1963); brothers, Aaron Merritt, Henry Merritt; sisters Martha Faye (at childbirth) and Marilyn Merritt; and grandson, Officer Darryl Deon Wallace.

Survivors: his wife; sons and daughters-in-law, Timothy and Andreana Merritt of Stone Mountain, Ga., Barry and Laurel Merritt of Oakwood, Ga., Garry and Adrienne Merritt of Flowery Branch, Ga.; daughter, Stacie Barksdale of Lovejoy, Ga.; sisters, Linda Ijames of Mocksville (She moved to Mocksville in 1953, and was accompanied to the funeral by her cousins, Pastors Thomas and Gloria Dalton and Charlie Ray Rivers) and Jane Merritt of Gainesville; brothers, Roy Merritt of Houston, Texas and Coy Merritt of Lula, Ga.; 13 grandchildren, Ashleigh Barksdale, Andrew Barksdale, Anjelica Barksdale, Brandon Merritt, Brian Merritt, Brenton Merritt, Jonathan Merritt, Lauren Merritt, Darrius Heard, Dorian Heard, Dierre Wallace, Naomi Merritt and Josiah Merritt; 8 great-grandchildren, Skye Barksdale-Bethea, Kyler Barksdale, Rylei Heard, Ava Heard, Darrius Heard Jr., Sydney Heard, Cassidy Harris, Jeremiah Merritt; and a number of other relatives and friends.

Funeral services were Tuesday, Dec. 27 at Memorial Park Funeral Home in Gainesville. Burial was in Memorial Park Cemetery. Pallbearers were Andrew Barksdale, Tommy Barksdale, Dorian Heard, Jonathan Merritt, Brenton Merritt, Brian Merritt, Jimmy Owens Jr.