Bill Ragland was born and raised in Gainesboro in Jackson County, Tennessee. His late parents David and Ruby Autrey Ragland had five children. Bill’s siblings have proceeded him in death; Tom Ragland, Bethel Ragland, Veatrice Bryant and Estelle Pirtle. Estelle Pirtle, Eric’s mother, was the closest in age to Bill. All through the years he had funny tales he told of them growing up together. Even though she passed away in recent years, he still spoke of her almost daily until the recent stroke. He loved his family.
As a young man he moved to Detroit in hopes of making a better income. After a short while he decided to move back to the south. Through his cousin he found employment at Western Electric Company, now Lucid Technologies, in Nashville. He began as an installer changing out rotary dial phones for push button phones throughout many states.
It was during his time of travel that he met Shirley in Ripley, Mississippi. Her cousin, who was working for Western Electric, introduced the two. They began their marriage on the road. About every six months they moved to a new town for Bill to do the installations. They lived throughout Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, New Mexico, and many more totaling 17 different states. Finally they were able to finish the traveling, settling in middle Tennessee. After many years Bill became the President of the union. He loved this work in this position because he genuinely wanted to help the workers. He retired from Western Electric at 55 years of age. After this he enjoyed servicing heating and cooling units.
If you knew Bill, you knew that Bill loved to talk. It didn’t matter if it was an old friend or a stranger. He also loved to laugh. For entertainment he loved to watch sports. He especially loved baseball. He also loved UT sports. But one of his greatest loves was his family. He loved Shirley, his wife of 59 years. During their marriage Bill and Shirley had two daughters; Gina and Lisa. Gina passed away at two years old and Lisa grew up a sweet joy to her parents. The Raglands have two grandchildren; Jennifer and Justin. And Jennifer has two children, Hollis and Kellen.
Bill would have done anything he could for his family. He would give them all he had. One of the great gifts he gave them was the gift of sobriety. For 32 years he was sober. Even after all these years he would not miss an AA meeting. Because of this, through the years he has encouraged and mentored so many in these meetings. He has been a constant strength to many.
The best news to share at this time is this, Bill Loved the LORD. For many years he faithfully worshipped and served the Lord at the Hermitage church of Christ. This was just down the road their home on Bonnavista Drive. Almost 10 years ago he became a part of the Mt Juliet congregation. For this we are thankful. We loved Bill. He was a faithful blessing to this congregation. His kind spirit, friendly demeanor and generosity are all things we benefited from and will deeply miss.
To Bill’s family we offer our prayers and sympathy. Also let’s continue to pray for Shirley’s physical health as she deals with complications. But let’s rejoice in hope for Bill. By faith we believe that Bill has stepped out of time and into an eternity with the God of marvels. Let all of us remember that for God’s children, the best is yet to come!