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Uncle Bill taught me the art of shooting fireworks, how to meet girls, how to drive a stick shift auto('58 Chevy), do what it takes to provide for a family, proper respect for my elders, to communicate properly in a face to face conversation(make and keep eye contact thus showing respect and interest, how to roller skate, and how to bounce back from adversity. Uncle Bill looked up to and respected his brothers- Elbert my Dad and Uncle Randall.So, the patience of Uncle Bill was legendary. Case in point, the '58 Chevy driving lessons. In the alley besides Grandpa Harry's and Grandma Elsies house was the first lesson. Pulling forward 50 feet was executed o.k. "Now shift into reverse, and backup" was the request from Uncle Bill. I did and everything would have great except for the power pole 1/2 down the alley! You guessed it, I side swiped the pole for about 6 feet. Here is the legendary patience Uncle Bill showed. "Well Mike, put it 1st gear and pull forward-I did. "OK Mike let's try it again". Without any hint of anger in his voice. I learned so-o much that day other that driving a stick shift. Oh, by the way I was 12 years old. What a MAN and MEANTOR you were to Me Uncle Bill! My family extents, sincere and loving condolences to Jeanine, Eric, and My Aunt Ruth. Love, Mike, Colleen Watkins
My thoughts and prayers to Eric and the family . I had known Billy Ray from many years ago mostly from my time selling building materials … I didn’t know much if anything and Billy Ray taught me a a lot about the construction side of the business to help me understand what a lumber salesman would need to know … I took a couple of my vacation days from the lumber yard to work on his job sites to one make money and two learn some practice experience. He took me up flying a couple times and we zipped around the island great times indeed … Billy Ray even took his own time with me ine summer and helped layout Suzanne’s and my foundation for our house where is still live today… he was a great mentor / teacher. It mostly a good friend
Thanks Billy Ray for the good memories of aroebatic flying over the ocean. I am honored I got to meet you. You will be missed by many.
We had the pleasure of being neighbors with Billy Ray for a few years. He'd always take a little stroll on his electric scooter while getting the mail and let my kids ride on his spare scooter. It was a sweet memory. Sorry to hear of his passing.
Mark and Peggy Wimer
Billy Ray was a fine man who positively influenced our lived, both through his fine son Eric and in hosting our family in his home multiple times. Ever gracious, kind and witty, we have nothing but fond memories of our times in his home. He is missed.
This describes him exactly! He was a friend to many and will be greatly missed.
Billy Ray was a great friend and flying buddy. My sympathies to the family
Billy Ray was a wonderful person. My sympathies to family.
A true Friend and business partner. Rest easy Billy Ray.
Carl and Barbara Anderson
I enjoyed working with Billy on many projects for Florida Public Utilities over many years. Admired and respected by us.
Did his concrete work for years and was a pleasure to know him
Billy Ray Watkins
Billy Ray Watkins, born in West Frankfort, Illinois on July 14th, 1937 passed on December 4th, 2022 at Community Hospice in Fernandina Beach, Florida.
Billy was a loving father, grandfather, son, brother, husband and friend to many. His life began in southern Illinois in a coal mining community with Father Harry and Mother Elsie, brothers Elbert and Randall. He enlisted in the Navy and became a skilled pilot, flying as a hurricane hunter to provide critical weather tracking data. While stationed at Jax NAS, he met and married Ruth Anne Crawford; they successfully raised 3 children together - Jeanine, Karen and Eric.
After his naval career, he obtained an engineering degree at Southern Illinois University followed by a successful posting with Ford Motor Company in Michigan. His next stage in life started back in Florida as an engineer for Gator Trailer manufacturing, quickly followed by a successful career as a local residential home builder. He obtained his underground contractor's license and was instrumental in building and improving the water plant infrastructure on Amelia Island. He served on the airport advisory board and was involved in local building committees. Billy Ray was proud of his role as a mentor to young people and providing insight to starting businesses, obtaining education, or just navigating life. His varied skills and hobbies were reading, book collecting, family tree history, aviation, coin collection, art and painting, and music. Billy was a witty story teller and had many adventurous tales to relate to all, many that included his flying exploits.
He will be missed by many. Billy is survived by daughter, Jeanine; son, Eric; grandchildren, Kristen, Victor, Will, Toby, Hope, and West. Remembrances to Billy Ray are asked to be in donations to your favorite charity, especially those that support and care for the elderly.