Billy Lee Cantrell, of St. James, Mo., passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on Thursday, October 26, 2023, at St. Luke’s Hospital, in Chesterfield, Mo., at the age of 77.
Billy was born on September 6, 1946, in Licking, Mo., to the late Johnny and Vivian (Lewis) Cantrell. Mr. Billy Lee Cantrell married his high school sweetheart and the love of his life, Miss Jean Karr, on June 25, 1966, this union was blessed with two children.
Just after a year into the marriage Billy was drafted into the United States Army during the Vietnam War, which earned him two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. After returning from active duty, Billy resumed his position at Holsum Bread as a route salesman and later a supervisor.
He was a man of God and was a member of the Rolla Church of Christ, serving as a Deacon for many years, and also in Fellowship. Billy was a strong presence in the lives of his children and grandchildren; his perseverance was one of his best qualities. He was involved in a head-on accident several years ago that took away his ability to walk, so for almost a year he underwent tough physical therapy. He also in later years struggled with the effects of Agent Orange, a chemical used during the war to help kill of underbrush. He enjoyed his family and to say he was proud of them is an understatement, he adored his kids and when the grandchildren came along, well that was a bonus for Billy.
He and Jean operated R & S Floral, in Rolla, for 34 years, they really enjoyed working together, and getting to know their customers wants and needs in the floral business.
Billy was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend, his finest quality was his patience, an inherent ability to listen, to absorb and to offer a point of view based on quiet, measured wisdom. Finally, every day of his 58 years of marriage, he taught his children and grandchildren what it meant to be a great husband. He married his sweetheart, he adored her, he laughed with her and cried with her, and was dedicated to her totally.
We bid farewell as we mourn the loss of a lively and dignified soul, a soul that brought joy and fulfillment to many, and whose legacy will live forever.
Billy is survived by his wife, Jean, of the home; children, Michelle Pogue and husband, James, of St. James, Mo., and Michael Cantrell, of Rolla, Mo.; grandchildren, Landon Pogue (Erica), Kaylea Pogue, and Sydney Cantrell; great-grandchildren, Lenna Grace Hitch, Dayton Pogue, and Carter Pogue; brothers, Keith Cantrell and wife, Marilyn, of Licking, Mo., and Kenneth Cantrell and wife, Lynette, of Cabool, Mo.; and a host of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. In addition to his parents, Johnny and Vivian Cantrell, Billy was preceded in death by his sister, Judy Evans and brother, Jimmy Cantrell.
Funeral services will be held on Sunday, October 29, 2023, at 3 p.m. at the Rolla Chapel of the James & Gahr Mortuary with Andy Cassidy officiating. Interment with Military Honors will follow at the Licking City Cemetery, in Licking, Mo. A visitation for family and friends will be held at the Chapel on Sunday prior to the service from 2-3 p.m. Memorials are suggested and greatly appreciated to the Little Prairie Bible Camp; cards are available at all James & Gahr locations.