Celebrating the life of William W. "Billy" Mahaffey
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It is with great sadness that the family of William W. “Billy” Mahaffey of Quincy, Florida, announce his passing on Tuesday, July 28, 2020 after a short illness. Billy was born on April 28, 1933 in the little Pasco County Florida town of Lacoochee, to Jim and Wilma Fletcher Mahaffey. He moved to Quincy in 1949 and spent the rest of his life in Gadsden County.
Lacoochee was the home of Cummer Sons Cypress Company, and Billy’s father, Jim Mahaffey, served first as foreman and later as superintendent of the mill. Billy had an ideal childhood there. It was a small company town where everybody knew everyone else and all parents looked after everyone else’s children. Billy was so happy there that he later convinced his young daughters that the streets of Lacoochee were paved with gold and there were ice cream cones hanging from the trees. As the son of the superintendent, he was teased by the other boys for living on what they called “Silk Stocking Street”. His early schooling was in a one room school in Lacoochee where he received a truly remarkable education. When he entered the ninth grade, he began attending high school in Dade City, Florida. While in high school he traveled to Connecticut with a group of fellow students and teachers from Pasco County to spend the summer working in shade tobacco and having the opportunity to take some very educational trips to New York City and Washington, D.C.
Billy’s parents were originally from Gadsden County; after his father suffered a number of strokes, the family moved back to Quincy in 1949. Unfortunately, his father died soon after the move to Quincy. As the last child at home, Billy helped to care for his mother who was suffering from cancer. He worked odd jobs both before and after high school to help make ends meet. He graduated from Quincy High School in 1951.
After graduation he attended FSU and spent his summers as a Merchant Marine earning money to pay for college. He and his friend Joe Wheat entered the Merchant Marines in 1952, and Billy spent that summer working on the USS Birch Coulee and the following one on the SS Atlantic Sun. Those summers carried him from the Texas coast all the way to Iceland and back to the Caribbean, giving a small-town boy a world of experience.
When in 1954 it became apparent to Billy that he needed to earn more money to help support his mother, he decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. After completing basic training at Paris Island, South Carolina, he was trained as a diesel mechanic at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and then assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Miami, Florida, where he served two years on active duty. One of the highlights of the past few years was his 2018 trip to Washington, D.C. with Honor Flight. He was honored to make the trip with other military veterans and especially to be accompanied by his Marine grandson, Will Croley.
After completing his tour of duty, Billy returned to Quincy and worked to complete his degree in Business from Florida State. After the death of his uncle, Earnest Mahaffey, he was offered the opportunity of taking over his uncle’s insurance and real estate business. This was the beginning of what would be an over fifty year ownership and association with the Mahaffey Agency in Quincy which later became Mahaffey, Young and Hinson. In all his endeavors his integrity and compassion earned him the respect and trust of everyone who knew him. Throughout his years in business Billy very quietly touched the lives of many and often anonymously lent a helping hand where it was needed. His reputation as a man and as a businessman was impeccable.
In 1959 he was fortunate to marry Janis Perkins of Tallahassee, who at the time was living in Atlanta and serving as an Eastern Airlines stewardess. In the years that followed they had three precious daughters, Jan, Julie and Laura, who were the center of their lives. Billy and Janis were very happily married for almost 40 years until her passing in September 1998.
Several years after Janis’s death, Billy married Susanne Bradford Maxwell. They would have seventeen years of marriage. During those years they enjoyed traveling all over the United States, to the Caribbean, to Canada and to Europe. They also especially loved to spend time with family and to enjoy a retreat at their cottage at Alligator Point, Florida. Susanne has a passion for history especially as it relates to her Bradford ancestors, and Billy happily made it possible for her to travel wherever she wished to pursue more leaves in her family tree.
Besides his career in business, Billy was also very active in his community. He was a devoted Christian and for many years served on the Vestry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Quincy. He was always willing and able to help his church in any way he was needed. Because of his reputation and leadership, he was called upon by various organizations. He served on the Quincy, Florida, City Commission from 1973-1981 and was Mayor of Quincy from 1975-1976 and again from 1980-1981. He was a member of the Gadsden County Community Board of the Capital City Bank for many years. Billy also served several terms on the Judicial Grievance Committee as well as one term on the Judiciary Nominating Committee. In 1987 he was awarded the Rotary Club’s Four-Way Test Award which is the club’s citizenship award given for incorporating the principles of truth, fairness, goodwill and to benefit all concerned in one’s daily life.
Billy was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Wilma Mahaffey, his daughter, Laura Mahaffey and his brothers and sisters and their spouses, Jimmy Mahaffey of Quincy, Jeanette M. Clarke and her husband Bob of Ormond Beach, Florida, Mary M. Rollins and her husband Neil of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, as well as his brother-in-law Dr. John Wilson of Tallahassee.
Billy is survived by his wife Susanne Bradford Mahaffey and his daughters Jan M. Bates and her husband Dick, and Julie M. Young and her husband Tommy, all of Quincy and their children Ally Anderson, Ben Young (Lindsey) of Quincy, Will Croley (Laura Beth), Clay Young and Fletcher Vaughn of Tallahassee; and Sam Young (Brittany) of Panama City Beach, Florida, as well as two precious great grandchildren, Wilson and Caroline Croley. He is also survived by his beloved sister, Harriet M. Butler and her husband Bob of Tallahassee and numerous special Mahaffey nieces and nephews. In addition he is survived by the family Susanne brought to his life all of whom loved him dearly. They are Susanne’s son, Richard Rivera, his wife Nicola and their sons Brad and Jack of Charlotte, North Carolina and Susanne’s stepsons and their families. They are Robbie Maxwell of Quincy, Florida, Tom and Angie Maxwell and their children, Mackenzie, Thomas, and Mary Vincent, and Farley and Alice Maxwell and their children Connor and Moselle also of Tallahassee. He is also survived by Susanne’s sister, Katie Bradford Linch and her husband Ray of Quincy and their daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Mark Campbell of Tampa, Florida.
The family would like to express sincerest thanks to Armanda H. Ferguson of Quincy for her loving care of Billy. She has assisted Susanne for the past several years as they dealt with the loss of his memory.
Due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, there will be a private graveside funeral in Quincy for the immediate family officiated by the Reverend Chris Erde of the First Presbyterian Church of Quincy. Military honors at graveside will be provided by the U.S. Marine Corps. Several local Marines will serve as pall bearers. Charles McClellan Funeral Home, 15 S. Jackson St., Quincy, FL (850-627-7677) is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Big Bend Hospice, 1723 Mahan Center Boulevard, Tallahassee, Florida 32308; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 10 West King Street, Quincy, Florida 32351: First Presbyterian Church of Quincy, 306 N. Madison Street, Quincy, Florida 32351 or Alzheimer’s Project, 301 East Tharpe Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32303.
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