William Glenn Willard, Jr., 72, died on Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, at Peter's Reef, Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman, while scuba diving with his family. Visitation will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019, at 9:30 a.m. with the funeral service to follow at 11 a.m. at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Clarksdale. The burial will follow at Oakridge Cemetery. Meredith-Nowell Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
William was preceded in death by his wife of 33 years, Betty Stone Willard, in May 2000; his father, William Glenn Willard, Sr., and his mother, Sammie Ernestine Cockrell Willard.
He is survived by his daughter Elizabeth Willard Hooker and son-in-law Mark Hooker, Jr., of Greenville; grandchildren Mattie Hooker, Mark Hooker, II, and Mary Glenn Hooker all of Greenville; sister Glenda Willard Cirilli and brother-in-law Bobby Cirilli, and sister Margaret Willard Hall all of Clarksdale; nieces Jen Waller and Robyn Cirilli Rhoden; nephews Richard Cirilli and Hayden Glenn Hall; and DiAnne Smith.
William was born in Bolivar County, on Oct. 28, 1947. His family moved to Coahoma County, MS, when he was six months old. He graduated from Clarksdale-Coahoma High School in 1965 where he was a member of the Wildcat Basketball Team serving as captain of the 1964-1965 team. He received the John T. Morris trophy for Best Senior Basketball Player. He also participated in Student Government serving as Vice-President of the Student Council and was elected Mr. CCHS in 1965.
After high school, William attended Mississippi Delta Community College on a basketball scholarship and served as captain of the 1966-1967 Trojan Basketball Team. He married Betty, his high school sweetheart, on Dec. 18, 1966. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree at Delta State University in January of 1969, and then joined the United States Marine Corps. He served in the Vietnam War as both a Platoon Commander and Company Commander with the First Marine Division. He was honorably discharged with the rank of Captain after having served three years in active duty and 18 months in active reserve. William was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V" for his outstanding service for leadership under fire, as well as The Vietnamese Campaign Medal, the National Defense Medal, The Vietnam Service Medal, and The Combat Action Ribbon.
William then attended the University of Mississippi School of Law, graduating in August 1974. While there, he served as Vice-President and President of the Law School Student Government Association.
William was a general practice attorney in Clarksdale, from 1974-1998. He served as Clarksdale Municipal Judge from 1977-1986. He was a member of the Coahoma County Bar Association having served as President, the Mississippi Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. He was also a fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation (Lamar Order) and was rated an AV Preeminent Lawyer by Martindale-Hubbell. In October of 2011, he was invited to join the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) which is an invitation only organization with only 125 associates in the state of Mississippi.
In September of 1998, he was appointed as Chancery Court Judge for the Eleventh Chancery Court District, Sub District I, by Chief Justice Lenore Prather of the Mississippi Supreme Court. At the time of his appointment, he was serving as senior trial attorney for Holcomb Dunbar Law Offices in Clarksdale where he was a partner. He was then elected by the voters as Chancery Court Judge for Bolivar and Coahoma counties in November 1998, 2002, and 2006. He retired from the Bench in December 2010, and returned to private practice. He has served as a mediator in numerous cases since that time and was approved as a CLE lecturer in the State of Mississippi.
In February of 1991, he began serving on the boards of First Valley National Corp. and First National Bank. In 1997, he was elected Vice-Chairman of the Board, and then served as Chairman of the Board from 1999 until his death.
He was baptized on March 17, 1957, at Lyon Baptist Church and was well-versed in the Bible. He taught the adult Discipleship Sunday School class for numerous years at Oakhurst Baptist Church where he was a member. William was affectionately called "Big Daddy" by his daughter, grandchildren and many others. He was a wonderful son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, friend, lawyer, judge, mediator, Christian, and example to so many.
Pallbearers are Ralph Chapman, Tom Ross, Billy Hopkins, Rusty Bennett, Jack Williams, and Lew Houston.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Oakhurst Baptist Church, 828 West Second Street, Clarksdale, MS, 38614, or CARES Clarksdale Animal Rescue Effort and Shelter, 1645 Desoto Avenue, Clarksdale, MS 38614.