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Billie Jean Dunaway Dodson

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April 13, 1929 – July 26, 2019

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Our mother, Billie Jean Dunaway Dodson, passed peacefully away Friday, July 26, at Putnam General Hospital, surrounded by loved ones.

Services were held Tuesday, July 30, 2019, at Vining Ivy Hill Chapel with Pastor Herring, Grace Baptist Church, officiating. Interment was at Crestlawn Memorial Gardens.

Mother was born on April 13, 1929, in Stewart County. She was a child of the Depression. The third daughter and middle child of William C. “Bill” Dunaway and Claud Frances Byrd Dunaway, she learned how to make do, do without, and never feel that she was owed anything for which she or her family did not work. Entitlement was not in her vocabulary. She passed this strong work ethic to every member of her family. Mother married our Daddy, Ray Dodson, and they moved from Columbus to Eatonton in the early 1950s, where they lived and reared three children: Mona (Bob) Betzel, Bill (Jan) Dodson and Lori Dodson (Kyle Kelly). The couple had five grandchildren: Rob (Jessi) Betzel, Brian (Hannah) Betzel, Jaime (Chris) Smith, Heather (Donnie) Thrift and Ana Dodson. She was lovingly known as Muv to 9 great grandchildren: Kira, Ashlan, Bruno, and Finn Betzel; Anthony Smith; Collis, Clyde and Canaan Thrift; and Tripp Gaston. Mother loved her children, thought her grandchildren wonderful, but said she knew her great grandchildren were absolutely the best. She was blessed by their presence and love and them by hers. Her family was the delight of Mother’s life. Her greatest joy was to be surrounded by her family, most often in her kitchen. Her chest freezer top was seldom without some kind of baked goods, or in a pinch, store bought cookies, cakes, Peeps. The candy bowl was always filled. The door was always open to family and visitors alike, and several college roommates found home away from home at “Mrs. Dodson’s.” Mother enjoyed working in her yard, surrounded by flowers and fruit trees. She loved to gather fruits for jams and jellies that she shared with family and many people through the Gatewood Grandmothers Bazaar and local schools and businesses. Her peach, wild plum and seedless blackberry jams are wonderful memories to many people. She made the best pound cakes, fancy filled desserts, meringues and chicken salad. A dream was fulfilled when Mother graduated from the LPN program of the then Baldwin County Hospital School of Nursing. While she never worked professionally as a nurse, her training and skills saw many family members and friends through illnesses and injuries, ranging from measles to broken arms, her calm manner assuring the injured that they would “be all right.” A lifelong learner, Mother encouraged all of us to pursue education, whether it be through technical skill training or college. While she respected a degree, Mother respected equally those people who earned their living with their hands and she taught us to do the same. Mother passed her love of reading to her children and her grandchildren and hoped that her great-grandchildren would love books, reading and learning. Mother was a people person and had a way of making people feel genuinely appreciated and important. She saw everyone she met as a gift to be treasured. She was ever positive and encouraging. People responded to her love, and she enjoyed a wide circle of friends of all ages who will miss her. A dyed in the wool Dawg fan, Mother seldom missed a Georgia football game, following the team by radio when television did not carry the game. She knew the players by name and always remembered their numbers and positions and she “coached Kirby” enthusiastically. She was a proud member of the Bulldog Nation, and she enjoyed teasing the family “Techies.” The deepest desire of Mother’s heart was that each of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren find Christ and live a Christ centered life. A strong woman of prayer, she prayed daily not only for her family but also for people known and unknown; for needs expressed and concerns unspoken. While she might not know the specific need, Mother always said God always knows and she could always ask Him to supply the right answer.

Mother cared for and supported a wide variety of faith and service organizations. Among them were Putnam General Hospital, Samaritan’s Purse, St. Jude’s Research Hospital for Children and Shriners’ Hospital for Children. Donations in Mother’s memory to any of these organizations or to the charity of the donor’s choice will be appreciated by the family.

The family thanks Dr. Rakesh Kumar, his staff and the entire team at Putnam General Hospital for their professional and compassionate care for our Mother and their loving attention to us during Mother’s illness and passing. Also, our sincerest appreciation to the Vining Ivy Hill Chapel family and to Sandra Hill for their kindest care in arrangements and service.

Vining Ivy Hill Chapel was in charge of the arrangements.