William "Billy" Walton Wailes was called home to be with the Lord on Saturday, November 4, 2017. He was born on August 13, 1930, to Hugh B. and Blooma Parker Wailes of Pennsgrove, New Jersey. Shortly afterwards the family moved to Wilmington, Delaware.
At the age of 4, Bill lost his mother to heart failure. Being the youngest of 7 children and a blended family, he was raised by their neighbor Lilly Mae Griffin because she also had a small child named Myrdis. The rest of the older children were disbursed to other family and close friends. His father never remarried, however the children managed to keep in contact with one another throughout the years.
Bill received his early education in the Wilmington Public School #29 at 12th and Poplar Streets and graduated from Howard High School in 1947, lettering in 3 varsity sports (football, baseball & basketball). After graduating he enlisted into the United States Air Force attending engineering school where he became a mechanic working on the aircrafts. By 1950 he was stationed in Germany during the Korean War where he served for 2 years. When he returned home he began working at “WilTex” a local clothing manufacturing company, working on the textile machinery until he saw how the company was treating its employees and became interested in labor laws and joined the local union at WilTex. He left WilTex and became a representative with Amalgamated Clothing Workers (AFL-CIO) and began representing members of WilTex and other clothing industries in the area. He served as a union rep for over 40 years until a forced retirement at age 61. Not able to find a fulfilling employment, he returned to his military interest and became an active member of the VFW Post #475. Over these past years he received All American Commander honors and Century Recruiter honors 4 times from VFW national conversations. He held many positions starting with Post Surgeon, Post Judge Advocate, Jr Vice Commander, Sr Vice Commander, Chaplain, Post Commander, and finally Captain of the Honor Guard, serving diligently until he could no longer physically participate in their honors detail. He continued to be active in the Post by attending meetings, taking trips and having meals with his VFW brothers; we understand that he was also a fan of the 1-Armed Bandits as well. He also frequented the McDonald’s restaurant down from his apartment complex every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and had breakfast with friends that his kids affectionately called “The Breakfast Club.”
During his life he was an avid fisherman and hunter; he also took up photography as a hobby for several years. He played basketball at the YMCA for the Wilmington Old Timers team for many years and later took part in the local Special Olympics Basketball team. He enjoyed traveling to places he desired to visit and loved all types of music especially Jazz. He was married 3 times, 1949, 1955 and 1974. In his 25 years of relationships he had 1 son, 6 daughters and 1 stepdaughter.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents and older siblings, as well as 1 son Hugh B. Wailes, and 1 daughter Victoria L. Wailes.
His memory will be cherished by his 5 daughters, Shane A. Wailes (Elard), Winifred W. Davis, Marthe H. Turner (Will), Beth A.R.D. Wailes, Alexandria J.K.Wailes, and stepdaughter Carol S. Steed; his 15 grandchildren, DeShon, William, Christian, Ashley, Martel, Robbie, Charles, Jailesha, Bethany, Mattina, Kate, Sarah, Anna, Amy, and Mary Ellen; 21 great-grandchildren; 1 sister, Myrdis Dyton; a god-daughter Giavonna Edwards; his dearest friends, Bernie & Deb August; beloved Joy Barnett; Post #475, and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends.
His Celebration of Life Service will be 11 am, Monday, November 13th at Congo Funeral Home, 2317 N. Market Street, Wilmington, DE 19802, with viewing from 9 am - 10:45 am only. His interment will follow in Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 2460 Chesapeake City Road, Bear, Delaware.
In lieu of flowers his family requests donations in his memory to VFW Post #475, 100 Veterans Drive, Newark, DE 19711.