William P. “Billy” Langdale, Sr., age 88, of Valdosta, passed away December 12, 2009. Born on February 10, 1921, he was the youngest of four children to the late Judge Harley and Thalia Lee Langdale. Billy will be remembered for his compassion he spread continuously throughout his life, his great humor, his never ending modesty, his intense desire to help others, and his unwavering love for his family.
Billy helped many people as his generosity was evident to all that knew him. While he was an accomplished public servant, he was devoted to the community, state, country, his family and friends, and to his strong faith in God. He was personable, loved children, dogs, and the outdoors, especially fishing. He always upheld a reputation for being fair, firm, and courteous.
Billy lived his entire life in Valdosta, and Lowndes County Georgia. He loved this community, and the people within it, as much as anyone ever has. And, it was with this love that he devoted so much of his life representing all of the citizens, trying to make it a better place to live.
Billy graduated from Valdosta High School in 1938. He was a proud member of the Valdosta Wildcat Football team. He went on to attend the University of Georgia, where he played football for the Bulldogs before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps in 1942.
Billy served his country as tirelessly and as heroically as he would later serve this community. He was proud to be a Marine, and always cherished the time he had to protect this country in World War II. His time was spent in the South Pacific, invading islands occupied by the Japanese. He often went onto Japanese islands weeks before the invasion, with only a few men, hiding in the forest, to report back on how best to accomplish the invasion. Navigating through the jungle in the South Pacific was natural to him, as he had spent his childhood working the turpentine stills for his father in the forestland surrounding the Okefenokee Swamp. Billy was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroic actions in the Battle of Piva Forks, Bougainville, as documented in A Ribbon and A Star, The Third Marines at Bougainville. He proudly retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
When Billy returned from World War II, he joined his father and two older brothers, Harley Langdale Jr., and the late John W. Langdale, Sr., in forming The Langdale Company. His entire working career was spent with his father and brothers in the forest products business. Billy had the utmost respect for his father, and his two older brothers, loved them dearly, and always cherished the time he spent with them as a family, and as businessmen.
Billy, however, always had a desire to do more for others, and serve more than just his own interest. It was certainly that passion that drove him to public service. His public career began in 1960, when he was elected as Chairman to the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners. He would remain the Chairman of the Lowndes County Commission for 16 years. During this tenure, the County paved over 150 miles of roadway. More special to him, however, was the fact that during that time, people joined him in helping improve this community, donating some of their land for right of ways so that the County did not have to spend additional funds. He used to also comment that during that time, all action taken was by unanimous consent of the commissioners, testament to his ability to build consensus among differing opinions and objectives.
He served on the Lowndes County Industrial Authority from 1961 until 1989. He also served on the Military and Governmental Affairs Committee for the Chamber of Commerce for twenty-seven years. In keeping Lowndes County on the minds of national and state leaders, many will remember the annual train ride to Washington, DC or the annual bird supper for Georgia legislature, both of which he was so instrumental in planning.
In 1988, Billy was elected by the Georgia Legislature as the Second Congressional District Representative on the Georgia Department of Transportation Board. He served on this Board for twenty-five years and for two years as its Chairman. His commitment to this State’s transportation was never questioned, as he never missed a single monthly meeting, and was always willing to listen to anyone with any suggestion as to how to make our highways safer and more efficient. In recognition of his outstanding service, the Department of Transportation named Highway 133 “Billy Langdale Parkway” and in 2008, the Georgia House of Representative and the Georgia Senate passed resolutions honoring his commitment to the citizens of the State of Georgia.
Throughout his life, Billy received numerous awards and recognition for his public service. At the age of 80, he was named by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of the 100 most influential Georgians. He was named in the South Georgia Business publication as one of the 25 Most Influential South Georgians. And just a few holiday seasons ago, at the age of 84, he rode in the 2005 Valdosta Christmas Parade, as its Grand Marshall, in honor of his lifelong service to this community.
He was a member of and supported numerous organizations, including the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, the Shriners, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Masonic Order, the Knights Templar, and the Boy Scouts of America. But, Billy most enjoyed performing his own type of charitable work, that which involved personally helping families and individuals in need. He always made time for people in need of assistance.
He was a lifelong member of the First Baptist Church. He was the founder and president of the Scrap Iron Sunday School Class. He loved his church, and he loved that Sunday school class.
Billy married the love of his life, the late Jacquelyn Williams Langdale. They were married for 54 years. The love they shared for each other was a wonderful example to their three children, 8 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren. Billy cherished the time he spent with his family, and never missed an opportunity to be a part of the lives of even the youngest of his great-grandchildren.
Billy is survived by his three children, William Pope Langdale, Jr. and wife Beverly, Robert Harley Langdale and wife Sybil, Jacquelyn Langdale Dickey and husband Marvin. He is survived by his eight grandchildren, William Pope Langdale, III and wife Evelyn, Julie Langdale Minick, and husband Bob, Beth Langdale Haun and husband Rex, Keri Langdale, Harley Langdale, Jacquelyn Dickey, Hamilton Dickey, and Lee Dickey. His seven great-grandchildren include Taylor Minick, Alden Minick, Alex Haun, Austin Haun, Lanier Langdale, Isabel Langdale, and William Pope Langdale, IV, and step-grandchildren, Courtney Sayre and Haley Sayre. He is also survived by his oldest brother Harley Langdale, Jr., sister-in-law Eileen Cox Langdale, sister-in-law Margaret Jones Langdale, his sister Virginia Langdale Miller of Augusta, Ga., and is preceded in death by his wife, Jacquelyn Williams Langdale, and his brother, John Wesley Langdale.
Those who knew Billy best would agree that he would not have wanted this long obituary written about him. He did not live his life to build a resume. He loved life, loved others, and did what he did out of the deep-rooted belief that life was about making it better for others. That was his true character, and the legacy that he leaves behind.
Funeral services for Billy will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at First Baptist Church. Dr. Phil West, Rev. Mac Weaver and Dr. Wayne Robertson will officiate. The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, December 15, 2009. A private family burial will follow at Sunset Hill Cemetery.
Considering that Billy supported so many different charities over his life, the family would request that any Memorial gifts be made in honor of W. P. “Billy” Langdale, Sr. to the donor’s choice of charity.
Carson McLane Funeral Home