Lonnie Ray Hilliard Sr., 68, of Greenwood, Del., peacefully departed this life as he slept on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at his home in Greenwood. He began his life on Wednesday, Jan. 10, 1951, in Selbyville, Del., the fifth of six children of Mary Hilliard and the late Dorsey Hilliard.
Hilliard attended Phillip C. Showell Elementary School in Selbyville and William C. Jason Comprehensive High School in Georgetown, Del. He also attended Job Corps in Utah for training in construction work.
In May of 1978, Hilliard married the love of his life, Helena Walters. To that union, three children were born. In May of 2019, the couple celebrated 41 years of matrimony. He affectionately referred to Helena as “Honey’’ every time he wanted to get her attention.
Hilliard was an amazing son, husband, father and grandfather. He began working at age 15 at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Dewey Beach, Del., with his mother. He was also employed at H&H Poultry Company in Millsboro, Del., Doyle’s Restaurant in Selbyville, A.P. Croll & Son Construction Company in Georgetown and the Stockley Center in Georgetown.
He had numerous other side jobs and hustles, such as “anything under the sun” and bird breeding with his good friend and business partner, Pursely, and Bob Jacks Club & Restaurant, which he operated with his brothers and children. He had many skills in creating unique items and tools that enhanced the sport of fishing.
Hilliard’s greatest passion was serving the Lord, to which he remained faithful to the end. He was a dedicated member of Mt. Calvary United Methodist Church in Bridgeville, Del., which he proudly attended with many family members. He was eager and willing to pray whenever called upon. His genuine and inspiring prayers always included a special request for God to bless and to protect our children.
A proud and devoted grandfather, Hilliard cherished the quality time spent with his grandson, Devin, especially watching their favorite television program, “River Monsters.”
Hilliard had a generous and giving spirit and loved being surrounded by his family and friends. He enjoyed cooking, fishing and telephone conversations with close friends, reminiscing about the good old days.
He also enjoyed listening to gospel music and singing in his beloved Waiting on Jesus Band and being a member of Mt. Calvary’s Atmosphere of Praise Choir, the Bridgeville Charge Men’s Choir and the Bridgeville Charge Combined Choir. His dynamic bass voice added much flavor to all choirs and will be greatly missed. With a spirit to help others, Hilliard looked forward each year to serving meals to the homeless during Thanksgiving.
Hilliard was preceded in death by his father, Dorsey Hilliard. He leaves to cherish his memory his devoted wife, Helena; his beloved mother, Mary Hilliard; five sons, Lonnie Hilliard Jr. and his wife, Nicole, of Harrington, Del., Chris Watson and his wife, Joyce, of Delmar, Del., Duane Brown his wife, Priscilla, of Bridgeville, Gordon Handy of Selbyville and Terriance Walters and his wife, Kenyette, of Milford, Del.; two daughters, Selena Eley and her husband, Leonard, and Cortney Hilliard, all of Greenwood; 20 grandchildren, Tamara, Labrontae, Devonta’, Eisha, Lonnica, Nike, Shairee, Lakhia, Chavez, Nekea, Christionne, C.J., Shamika, Dalisha, Diamond, Jazmhir, Gordon Jr., Laterra, Randy and Devin; 12 great-grandchildren; two sisters, Annie Handy and her husband, Lemuel, of Selbyville, and Reva Bivens and her husband, Denver, of Roxana Del.; three brothers, John Hilliard his wife, Rosetta, Dorsey Hilliard and Connie Hilliard, all of Williamsville, Del.; four aunts, an uncle and a host of nieces, nephews and cousins; and two life-long faithful friends, Terrence Walters and Pete Major.
A celebration-of-life service was to be held July 6, 2019, at Calvary Pentecostal Church in Bishopville, Md. Arrangements were by Bennie Smith Funeral Home in Seaford, Del., through which condolences may be sent online at www.benniesmithfuneralhome.com.