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Billy Joe Kilpatrick

September 23, 1934 February 14, 2020
Billy Joe Kilpatrick
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Obituary for Billy Joe Kilpatrick

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Obituary for Billy Joe Kilpatrick

Billy Joe Kilpatrick, 85, of Belzoni, MS went home to be with the Lord on February 13, 2020. He was born on September 23, 1934 in Gooden Lake, a country community just outside Belzoni. As a youth and teenager, he farmed with his father while also helping his mother manage a country general store. During this time, he attended and graduated from Belzoni High School in 1953 excelling as a catcher on the baseball team and a guard on the basketball team. After Billy Joe’s graduation, his father developed an idea after seeing a magazine photograph of a diner in Hollywood. In 1954, at nineteen years old, Billy Joe helped his father build and operate the Dairy Treat, which many teenagers called the Dairy Bar as it became their local hangout while dancing to the music on the juke box.

While sitting atop a floor freezer, he saw the love of his life walk up to place an order for a fountain drink and ice cream. Billy Joe and Charlene were married on June 13, 1955 in Cheyenne, Wyoming just after he enlisted in the Air Force. Returning from his service to America, Billy Joe opened his first restaurant, The Varsity, in Cleveland, MS. Within four years he and Charlene purchased the Dairy Treat in 1964 from his father and mother, eventually changing the name to The Varsity, of which they operated for the most part until May of 2015 when he retired due to a diagnosis of dementia at eighty years old. During his time at The Varsity he also worked as a rural mail carrier mostly serving his beloved Gooden Lake community for over twenty-five years.

Once when asked how he could work seven days a week for so many years, he simply responded, “I love the people.”

Billy Joe was a member of the First Baptist Church of Belzoni for over fifty years, where he enjoyed doing handy-man projects from time to time and eventually became a Deacon during the latter years of his life. Billy Joe and Charlene enjoyed almost sixty-five years of marriage together.

He was preceded in death by his father, William Hansford Kilpatrick, his mother, Edna Wooten Kilpatrick, his brother, Earl Kilpatrick, and his sister Bonnie Freund. He was survived by his five children, Diane LaNell Jones (Freddie) of Hollandale, Danny Joe Kilpatrick of Dallas, Texas, Deborah Alisa Domino (Anthony) of Indianola, Delinda Ray Russell (David) of Trussville, Alabama and Douglas Hansford Kilpatrick (Shawn) of Southaven. Billy Joe is also survived by twelve grandchildren, being Mandy (Ramey), Kacey, Daniel, Dane, Tony (Sarah Grace), Alex (Parker), Tyler, Brandon (Callie), Brian (Brooke), Brent, Abbie and Austin, as well as eight great-grandchildren, being Madison, Mari Mason, Riley, Reese, Grace, Henry, Rowland and Kacen James along with many extended family members.

Family and friends will celebrate his life with visitation on Monday, February 17, 2020 from 12:30 to 2:00 at First Baptist Church of Belzoni, followed by his funeral services at 2:00. The burial ceremony will take place at the Belzoni Cemetery; under the direction of Mortimer Funeral Home.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.


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