Baxter Springs, Kan – Billy Joe Hessee of Baxter Springs, Kan passed away on June 4, 2014 after a battle with dementia.
Billy was born to Mark A. and Carrie Bernice (Edmonds) Hessee on November 22, 1928 in Galena, Kan.
Outside of a couple years, he spent most of his life in Baxter Springs. Bills family moved into a house on Lincoln Street in Baxter, and that is where he met and married the love of his life, Leona May Riddle.
Bill and Leona’s love story began in their junior year of school. The couple graduated together in 1948, and married on February 27, 1948 in Billy’s home. They have never been apart since that day. Leona survives.
Billy worked for Empire District from 1952 to 1990, retiring as maintenance foreman.
Even though dementia had diminished his memories, he always remembered spending a lot of time at Riverton Empire District and took great pride in doing so. Never a trip to Joplin passed without him telling whoever he was with that he used to work there.
Billy became a Master Mason in the Baxter Lodge No. 71 in February of 1954 and became a lifetime member in 2004. He served as Master of the lodge in 1960.
He was a member of the Fellowship Baptist Church in Baxter Springs.
Billy’s family was his life. He loved tinkering in his shop on numerous projects. He was an avid collector. He collected stamps, coins, and postcards. He spent many hours making his own fishing tackle and giving it away. He taught grandkids to make the fishing tackle for 4-H projects and also did woodworking and electricity projects with them.
The couple purchased 20 acres of land and he, along with his father, sons, and grandsons, helped build him a man cave. He raised cattle and loved tinkering with old tractors and implements. You could say he was a collector of junk!
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, one newborn sister, Josephine, one brother, Mark Hessee Jr., one granddaughter, LaTrisha Hessee and her unborn son, Phillip.
Additional survivors include three sons, Michael Earl Hessee of Baxter Springs, Robert Wayne Hessee of Baxter Springs, Billy Dean Hessee (wife, Debbie) of Galena, Mo, one daughter Pamela Diane Paxson (husband, Terry) of Columbus, Kan, one sister Florene Shouse (husband, Sid) of Joplin, Mo, one brother-in-law O.E. “Tuffy” Riddle, and a niece Andrea Tunnel. Billy leaves this life with the love and admiration of 16 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. He will be greatly missed by all of his family. He always gave the best hugs and always told us “I sure do love you!” The last few years he did not know his family, and when asked if he knew who we were he would just say “No, but I know you are someone I love!”
Billy left this world after mastering and possessing what most have only heard of: Unconditional True Love.
Funeral Services were held at First Baptist Church, 10th and East Avenue in Baxter Springs, at 4 PM on Friday, June 6, 2014. The family received friends at the church Friday at 3 PM. Memorial donations may be made to Fellowship Baptist Church in Baxter Springs in care of the funeral home. Online condolences may be expressed atwww.derfeltfuneralhomes.com.
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