My Dad who was the oldest of four children had three sisters. The first of Dad's sisters, Amelia, was always called Sis. Aunt Sissy died in 2012 in her 96 th year of life. Dad's second sister, Tommie Morine, died in infancy being only two months old when the great influenza pandemic of 1918 took her. Billie Frances was Daddy's baby sister being about 15 years younger than Daddy. She died last week at the age of 87. That was it, the last of Ed Rogers' kids.
It was not the last of PawPaw Rogers' legacy nor of the three children that survived into their 80's and 90's. At the memorial service on Saturday, there was row after row of grandchildren and their children and their children's children. That did not even count the ones along the West Coast from California to Washington state that could not attend. Nor the ones scattered across Oklahoma and Texas. There are over 100 of us now.
My sisters and I were asked to tell some of the stories about the fun times we had with Aunt Billie. It was not hard to search for material. What was hard was sharing the best of them. Aunt Billie was a divorced, single Mom in the early 1950's. That carried a stigma in the Bible Belt south. She never let it hold her back. She worked her way up from being a secretary to being an Executive assistant to the likes of Clint Murchison Jr., the founder of the Dallas Cowboys. She worked in the halls of power in the 1960's and 1970's Dallas, TX.
After her second marriage to A. G. she became a civil servant. They moved to the Greenville area and again Aunt Billie moved up the ranks. Her bosses were not the captains of industry now but the Commanders and Colonels of the Air Force. She felt great pride as she worked in this highly secret job. Always respected by the men and women with whom she worked. Ms. Billie was her moniker for 30 years. One day a young colonel came to her desk with a request. "Granny Billie" is how he greeted her. "That very day I turned in my resignation" she later recounted to me. Yep, the young Colonel got an earfull from some of the other folks that held Ms. Billie in such high regard.
In the last two years as Aunt Billie's mind became less reliable it was some of those same Colonels and Commanders that came frequently to check on her. They brought groceries. They gifted a Life Alert bracelet and the monthly fee paid for Ms. Billie. They even visited when she was in the nursing home in her last weeks of life. Just as she had served them, they served her.
Aunt Billie was the aunt that saw me as an emerging adult. She showed me great amounts of trust. She was my mentor as a professional woman. I aspired to be Aunt Billie. But more that all that she loved me. And I still love her. May her soul rest in Eternal Peace.