Billie Jean Little Williams

Billie Jean Little Williams passed away in her sleep Thursday, September 24.


Born the only child of Noah Webster Little and Virginia Belle Barber Little on December 3, 1928, she spent a happy childhood in Jackson between Davis Elementary and Jitney Jungle #14 before relocating to the Mississippi Delta and graduating from Greenwood High School as the drum major of its award-winning band.

A scholarship student at the University of Mississippi, Billie Jean was a Faithful Sister of Phi Mu and Majorette for the Pride of the South marching band before graduating with a Bachelors degree in Education.

One particularly fine day at Ole Miss, she pushed a friend across the booth at the Grill to make room for Madison Eugene Williams, Jr., henceforth her Willie and husband of 67 years. After brief stints in Arkansas, South Carolina, and Louisiana, the couple settled in Gulfport with daughter Julie and sons Robert and John David.

After moving to Hattiesburg in 1966, Billie Jean shared her many talents with the children of the Hattiesburg Public School District, teaching home economics and family living at Lillie Burney and Blair for 28 years until her retirement in 1994.

Billie Jean was a devoted member of the First Baptist Churches of Gulfport and Hattiesburg, where she was an active leader of the youth program, and later in life a member of University Baptist Church.

A matriarch to not only her three children but also three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, she exuded quiet power, defeating breast cancer in the late-1990s with stubbornness and the rose-colored glasses of eternal optimism.

Billie Jean loved music, whether performing with Jim Hayes' Visionaires, swinging a foot to the tune in her head in her favorite chair, or serenading her family with You Are My Sunshine when Alzheimer’s made conversation difficult.

She was preceded in death by Willie this February, giving him just enough time to find her a perfect chair for their new home, and is survived by many who benefitted immeasurably from her dedication, love, and a withering glance or two.

Her family is forever grateful for the exceptional care she received at home from Gale Brown and Ann Jaynes and, more recently, the family of caregivers at Alden Pointe Assisted Living.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Billie and Madison Williams Scholarship Endowment at the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655 <x-apple-data-detectors://2>.

In these days of COVID-19, family and friends are encouraged to share and enjoy memories of Billie Jean at facebook.com/robertandangelawilliams

Private Graveside Services will be held at Roseland Park Cemetery.