John Eldon Gilliam, age 73, went home to his Lord and Savior on February 2, 2012. He was born April 23, 1938 in Peace Valley, Missouri to Ted and Jeannette (Boss) Gilliam. On December 8, 1956 he was united in marriage to Lula Belle Stephens in Mountain View, Missouri.
He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Lu, of the family home; three sons and their wives, Craig and Carlissa Gilliam, Pleasant View, Utah; Chris and Denisea Gilliam, West Plains, Missouri and Curt and Kim Gilliam, Nixa, Missouri; three grandchildren, Chelsea Gilliam and husband Josh Brown, Mountain Grove, Missouri and Kennedy and Case Gilliam, Nixa, Missouri; three step-grandchildren, Michael and Ryan King, Thayer, Missouri and Ashley Harris, Springfield, Missouri; three step-great-grandchildren, Braxton, Braigon and Brennan, Thayer, Missouri. John looked forward to the arrival of great-grandson Carlisle Gilliam Brown; siblings and their spouses, Rita and Royce Fugate, West Plains, Missouri; Karen and Roy Jones, Gainesville, Missouri, Michael and Donna Gilliam, Peace Valley, Missouri; sister-in-law Karen Gilliam, West Plains, Missouri; In-laws Jim and Earline Taylor, Nixa, Missouri; Ed and Joan Stephens, Highlandville, Missouri and Ken and Marsha Stephens, Merrillville, Indiana; and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Dennis Gilliam and nephew, Kyle Gilliam.
John was a lifelong resident of Howell County, Missouri. He graduated from West Plains High School with the class of 1956. After short stays in St. Louis and Iowa, John returned to West Plains and worked for Doss & Harper as a dragline operator. He later went to work for Dodds Truck Line where he spent many years of service. He was a retired member of the Teamster Local 245. He eventually took employment at the City of West Plains driving a transport truck from which he retired in 2004. He drove over 3 million miles during his years of trucking without a chargeable accident. John also enjoyed working on his farm in Peace Valley. He and his brothers operated the Gilliam Brothers Farms where they raised beef cattle.
John was a charter member of the West Plains Jaycees where he served as vice president and was voted “Jaycee of the Year.” He was instrumental in the development of the Jaycees Mighty Mite Football program in West Plains. He was a Mighty Mite football coach for all three of his boys as well as many other youth in the community. John also enjoyed playing catcher for the Peace Valley fast-pitch softball team where he was teammates with his father, brothers and sons. Over the years, John played on several local fast-pitch teams and made many lasting friendships. He and his wife Lu enjoyed spending time together on the lake, at the golf course and with friends’ playing cards. In later years, John became a loyal fan of his grandchildren, cheering them on in all their activities. He had a great love of family, sports and community.
John was a lifelong Christian and attended Faith Assembly of God Church in West Plains, Missouri.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at a later date and will be announced prior to such time. When Memorial Services are held, guests will have the opportunity to share their memories of John if they wish to do so.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the “John Gilliam Mighty Mite Football Memorial Fund”. Donations will be accepted at Great Southern Bank of West Plains, 1210 Parkway Shopping Center, West Plains, MO 65775 or given to Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.