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American Veteran 09


William Leon " Billy" Whitfield

March 4, 1947 ~ April 21, 2019 (age 72)

William Leon "Billy" Whitfield 72 departed this life on April 21, 2019, at home surrounded by his family.

William Leon Whitfield was born on March 4, 1947, to the union of Rev. Eddie Whitfield and Nellie B. Gilchrist Whitfield. He was the 7th child born to this Christian lineage.  He departed this life on Sunday, April 21, 2019, at home surrounded by family. 

Billy, as he is affectionately called, grew up on Broadway and Lavette Street in Benton Harbor, Michigan. He attended Columbus School where he was a Cub Scout, Benton Harbor Junior High School and was a proud graduate of the Benton Harbor High School class of 1965. He was a member of the Turbans Hi Y. of which Mr. Charles Gray (his uncle) was the leader.

Billy established lasting friendships while growing up that evolved into him having more brothers.  They include Elijah Burton, Clinton Frazier, Luria Johnson, Roy Shurn and William Whitfield to name a few.  

He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior and was baptized.  In1978, he joined Second Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Donald Adkins and continued under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Kenneth M. Gavin, Rev Andrew Smith and now Rev. Kenneth E. Robinson. 

He was inducted into the United States Army in 1966. He served and was honorably discharged in 1968.

His employment career began early, with the cleaning jobs and character and work ethic principles that he gained by working with his beloved cousin Nemiah Johnson.  He was a real estate investor, owning several properties in Benton Harbor and was known as "the rent man.”  He operated a snowplowing business and was the owner of Billy’s Dairy Bar in Benton Harbor.

Billy set a great example for his family and motivated them towards their future careers.

He was employed by the Whirlpool Corporation for 48 years. He retired in 2011on his 64th birthday. During his career, he received awards for quality performance and served on committees that involved company improvement and community involvement which included collecting luggage for the donation to foster children. He also made many quality friendships that evolved into brotherly relationships that lasted through the years and bonded our families together.  They included Donald and Linda Kabel, John and Clara Churchill, Charlie Biebleheimer, Guy Shelton, Charles Blanton, and others.  They showed their love and concern for him during his recent illness.

During this walk through life, he was blessed to have friends who would “walk closer than a brother.”  Lawanda and Leslie Hainey, who showed without a doubt that moving 1200 miles away would not stop their presence at every important event, including his heart surgery.   Also, Louis Hoggatt and Harold Walden who became his big brothers when his eldest brother Eddie Jr. transitioned. They continually showed their love, staying in regular contact throughout the years.

In 1970, he met and fell in love with Danethel O. Echols. They were married and enjoyed 49 years together. They enjoyed traveling, boating, snowmobiling and going to plays and events that included family and friends, supporting and celebrating the accomplishments of others and spending quality time with their family.  To this union, there were three children Shawn, Leona, and Albert. God is so good that he allowed a young man, Tyrone Green, to come into their lives and become their son. 

Left to cherish his memory are: his devoted and loving wife Danethel, his children Shawn Bernard Echols, of Benton Harbor, Michigan, Billie Leona Whitfield-McGill of Newcastle, Washington, Albert Nemiah Whitfield of South Bend, Indiana and Tyrone Green (Connie) of San Antonio, Texas, one super son in law Donald McGill of Newcastle, Washington;  Sisters: Jewel Elaine Jones, of Berrien Springs, MI, Joy Darlene Hawkins and Jolita Allene Smith of Benton Harbor, MI and Edda Nell Whitfield-Dickerson of Detroit, MI, one brother Steward Whitfield of Tampa, FL., sisters in law: Eleanor J. Davis and Cansada S. Beck and brothers in law Sammie Smith and Charles Beck Sr., special cousins/sisters Beverly Johnson-McCree and Gayle Johnson of McKinney, TX., Grandchildren Alea, Donald II, BreSean, Shardé, Dashoune, Arielle, Albert, Sierra, La’Niyah, Lance, Ariana, Daeshunn, Ashanti,  Jermani, Chloe, Zyiar, Brandon and London His great-grandchildren Alivia, Logan and Amari, Godchildren: Thomas Page II, Rosalyn Shabazz and Dominique Mays and many cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends. His special caregiver, his niece Kimberly Davis.

He was predeceased by his parents, his brother Edward Whitfield, his mother in law Pearlie Mae Echols, brothers in law William Downs and Albert Echols, his sister in law Terry Johnson, his niece Dana Beck and his nephew Julian Mann.

We loved you Billy but God loved you best.


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