Born: March 19, 1915
Died: August 06, 2013
“Songbird Flies Away”
On Aug. 6, Lillian Emma Russell Williford took the hand of her Lord and Savior and joyously joined her many Christian family members in heaven. She was 98 years of age and a resident of Kirby Pines Estates in Memphis for over twenty years. She was born to Benjamin Floyd and Mattie Glaze Russell on March 19, 1915, near Jackson, MS. She was sister to the late Forrest Glaze Russell of Jackson, MS and Mamie Russell McCoy of Cleburne, TX. She and her late husband, William Layne Williford of Greenwood, MS, lovingly raised two daughters, Evelyn Russell Williford Varnado of Marietta, GA and Linda Layne Williford Pifer of Memphis, TN. Lillian and William had four exceptionally loving grandchildren, John Mark Williford Pifer, Joel William Varnado, Daniel Wellington Varnado, and Kathryn Pifer Nelson, as well as one great grandson, Christian William Nelson. Her three nieces, Barbara Taylor, Norma Jean Guidry and Carolyn McCoy, all of Texas, will miss her greatly.
Our mother was a free spirit, and was fondly known as the “Songbird of Kirby Pines” She loved music and performing more than anything on earth. She grew up in her Dad’s music store, where he sold pianos and many other musical instruments. The brightest day in her young life was the delivery of a piano, just for her, to her home in Jackson, MS from her Dad’s store. She had a passion for music, and she shared this generously in Greenwood, MS, where she lived from the time that she came there as a bride in 1940. She loved the Mississippi Delta, and exulted in its lovely explosion into spring, which is like spring nowhere else on earth, with forsythia, dogwood, redbud, daffodils, narcissus and, later, wisteria in fragrant abundance. She planted verbena, morning glories and a lovely tea rose at our first home. Mockingbirds nested in that tea rose vine, and in a rare snowstorm, she rescued a mockingbird that fell at our doorsteps. It was her belief that it came back in the spring and nested there and raised its own little family.
She was a most loving mother, and was particularly attentive to our welfare, since she grew up in the Great Depression, and suffered the lack of necessities that most of us now take for granted. She always liked to dress well and look very nice, and took pride in her appearance. She was thoughtful of those less fortunate, and generously signed over the deed to a home she owned to a lady who could not ever complete the payments. She forgave the debt, and the lady became the owner of her home.
She worked very hard in the children’s choirs in the First Baptist Church in Greenwood, MS, and her children’s choir won many awards. She was a very active member of the Church, and served as the President of the Women’s Missionary Union. She served as chaperone on mission trips for Baptist youth to the Gulf Coast and to Montana. She accepted any mission required by her Church, and faithfully served in many capacities. She also served as a volunteer at Kirby Pines.
At Kirby Pines, she was an enthusiastic choir member, line dancer and played the piano in the mornings as people came in for breakfast and also, before the noon time meal. She would often sing in the halls on her way to lunch and dinner. Her music contributed greatly to the quality of life at Kirby Pines, and she enjoyed this participation greatly. It gave her joy to lift the spirits of others.
She will be sorely missed by her good friends both in Greenwood, MS, and here in Memphis, but most especially by her family who will miss her humorous, witty charm and Southern belle demeanor.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013 from 6 until 8 PM at Memorial Park (Behind the Stone Wall) on Poplar Avenue. Interment will take place following a graveside ceremony at Oddfellow’s Cemetery in Greenwood, MS on Fri. Aug. 9 at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to the Wounded Warrior’s Fund or the Ann Bell Scholarship Fund at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center