Jackson - Otis Bennett Walton, Jr. died peacefully in his home on the evening of Saturday, August 1st, surrounded by family and love. A private family service will be held at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church in the coming days to celebrate his life. Known to all as Billy, he was born on July 31, 1927, the only child of Minnie Elizabeth Catherine Cannady and O.B Walton. Billy was born in Jackson and lived there happily for the rest of his life, creating deep roots of community and church involvement alongside lasting friendships built on mutual respect and affable dialogue.
After attending Jackson public schools Power Elementary and Bailey Junior High and graduating from Central High School in 1945, Billy earned the LL.B. degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1949.
As an undergraduate at Ole Miss, Billy's personal warmth and gregarious personality found multiple expressions. He was Vice President and President of the Associated Student Body, President of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership fraternity, President of his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Head Cheerleader, and elected to the 1947 Hall of Fame.
Trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, he received a commission as First Lieutenant in the United States Army Reserves, serving as a member of the Judge Advocate General Corps from 1949- 1955. Billy made friends easily and with sincerity, and frequently remarked that he counted it a privilege to know good friends in every county of the state. Some of those friendships were made throughout his many years in the municipal bond business, during which he regularly called on friends and associates statewide. He began selling bonds across the state alongside his father immediately following law school, all the while faithfully writing letters from each hotel. These letters urged Frances Patterson to return to Jackson from Atlanta, where she was in school at Agnes Scott. One May day, Billy's hopes came to fruition as he loaded her belongings in his canary yellow convertible and drove her home to Jackson, where she completed her degree at Millsaps College as they planned their wedding. He married Frances Pat in 1951 and they poured their energy into their family and Jackson's civic affairs without missing a chance to dance together, something they loved across decades of marriage. Throughout their life, Billy found success across multiple business pursuits, including his service as President of Patterson Drug Stores in the 1960s, his work as a stockbroker and Vice President at Paine Webber Jackson & Curtis, and his time as a financial advisor and Vice President at Salomon Smith Barney before his retirement.
His beloved wife of 64 years, Frances Patterson Walton, predeceased him on September 30, 2016. Billy Walton leaves a host of friends and devoted family who mourn the loss of his good humor, abundant care, and generous blessings. He leaves two children: son, Ben Walton and wife, Marita; and daughter, Kelley Walton Fenelon, all of Jackson. His six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren will miss the man they adore as "Popee" as well: Bennett and Samantha Walton and their children Caroline, Otis, and Jack, of Houston, Texas; Rhymes and Prentice Stabler and their children Pace, Ramsay, and Bennett, of Nashville, Tennessee; Marita and Reed Ellis and their son Grady, of Nashville; Kelley Frances and Melissa Fenelon Snarr and their children, Marrin and Emmeline Frances, of Nashville; Patterson Fenelon and Kacie Connors of Nashville; and Laura Walton and Ben Lane of Jackson.
Billy was a lifelong and dedicated member of Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church where he served as Chairman of the Board, Superintendent of the Sunday School and Chair of the Finance Committee and the Staff-Parish Relations Committee. His faithful leadership and commitment included serving as past Chairman of the Mississippi Methodist Foundation.
A member of the Mississippi State Bar Association for over fifty years, Billy was also a past board member of the Jackson Rotary Club and Past President of the North Jackson Rotary Club where he was a Paul Harris Fellow. He was a founder of Jackson Preparatory School and former board member of the Andrew Jackson Council Boy Scouts of America where he received the Silver Beaver Award for service and leadership to scouting.
Billy was an engaging conversationalist on most any topic, a consummate gentleman rarely seen without his signature bow tie, and a gracious host who always sought to put the other person at ease. His primary and continuous lifelong hobby was traveling the world and savoring the food and natural beauty of every country he visited. He never tired of planning trips and dreaming of new destinations. He shared with his family this zeal for adventure and provided memorable occasions for them to observe first-hand his sheer delight in being aboard a boat of any size. From dingy to fishing boat to observation deck, Billy displayed a certain countenance when on the water that radiated his joy and contentment. His soul seemed to settle similarly when he visited his well-loved condominium in Perdido Key, Florida. Although he'd seen the world - and delighted in recalling the many geographical, historical, and cultural facts he'd learned throughout his travels - he took great satisfaction in everyday life: watching his grandchildren (and, later, great-grandchildren) play together, joining hands with his family to bless a meal, observing a sunset at the beach, and tucking into a bowl heaped with scoops of ice cream. He had a practice of expressing gratitude and acknowledging God's blessings, and frequently said, "If I don't wake up tomorrow, I've had a great life!
The family wishes to extend their heartfelt thanks to the caregivers from Comfort Keepers and Baptist Hospice for their dedicated and compassionate care, in addition to the many unrelated visitors who came to see him often and enjoy the hospitality of his rich conversation over a cup of tea.
Memorials may be made to Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church, 305 N. Congress St., Jackson, MS 39201, or to The Andrew Jackson Council of the BSA, 855 Riverside Dr., Jackson, MS 39202, or to a charity of your choice.