Barney Jay Gilliam ("Pa") of Abilene, TX passed away on March 20, 2021 at the age of 69. Barney was born to Joseph (Jay) and Helen Gilliam on September 1, 1951 in Oak Ridge, TN. He married Huei Jen Gilliam on September 12, 1973 and they celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary last year. They have three children: daughters Janice Marie Dennis and Jennifer Elaine Gallagher and son John Douglas Gilliam.
Barney attended Oak Ridge High School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1971. He was a distinguished veteran of the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War primarily supporting C-130 aircraft. He was also selected to participate in the transport of VIP personnel into or near conflict zones including Senator (and former astronaut) John Glenn and high ranking military and civilian diplomats to Hanoi during Vietnam peace talks. He served 26 years in the USAF with many distinguished honors and performance medals including the Meritorious Service Medal and Air Force Commendation Medal. He retired while serving at Dyess AFB in Abilene, TX with the rank of Senior Master Sergeant. His longest tours of duty were at Clark AB in the Philippines from 1977-84 and Dyess AFB in Abilene, TX from 1984-97. He also attended Cisco Jr. College and McMurry University in Abilene, TX.
Barney was loved for his special joy in doing things with his family. He was famous for his teasing and loved when it was reciprocated. Barney enjoyed visiting with people from all walks of life in almost any setting. He loved playing checkers and other games with family and friends as well as telling stories and sharing wisdom gained from his military service and life. After retirement, he loved taking road trips back home to Tennessee and from coast to coast. The grandchildren also have wonderful memories of Pa sharing life lessons, taking them on trips, and supporting their activities and education. In his latter years, Barney more freely expressed his spiritual hopes and dreams for his children and grandchildren to meet him and those that preceded him on the other side with Jesus.
He is survived by his loving wife Huei Jen Gilliam; his children Jennifer Gallagher (husband Brian), John Gilliam, and Kelly Herbert; son in-law Bruce Dennis (wife Amy); siblings Della (Deckie) Irene Conley (husband Tom), James Gilliam, and Sue Gilliam Ogle; six grandchildren; and one great grandchild.
He was preceded in death by his daughter Janice Maire Dennis, his brother Joseph L. Gilliam, his parents Jay and Helen Gilliam, and his grandparents John and Fannie Hamby and Arthur, Sr. and Mae Gilliam.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, burial services have already been completed and traditional visitation and memorial services have been postponed (date TBD). However, messages left on the Elmwood Funeral Home obituary web page for Barney under the "Tribute Wall" or "Share a Memory" will be much appreciated. If desired, private condolences can be emailed to the family at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line of "Barney Condolences'' (please include your relation to Barney). Also indicate if you would like to receive the details of Barney's memorial service once the date has been determined. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in honor of Barney at the American Cancer Society or a Veteran organization of your choice.
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