William Cecil (Billy) Knowles, Jr. went to his heavenly reward in the early morning hours Sunday, February 12, 2023 just four days shy of his 81st birthday. He was at home with his wife and family. Billy’s life was very fulfilling and rewarding. He loved his family, friends, especially his church family of FBC Headland, Georgia football, and the “under dog” in all walks of life, along with anything chocolate!
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 3:00 P.M. Sunday, February 19, 2023 in the Worship Center of the First Baptist Church Headland, Headland, Alabama with Dr. Cecil M. Sanders, Jr. officiating. The family visitation will be from 2:00 until 3:00 P.M. Sunday in the church sanctuary. Holman-Headland Mortuary & Cremations is in charge of arrangements.
Having lived his first three years in Headland, AL, while his father, Mr. Cecil, served in World War II, Billy’s family moved to Ozark where he spent his growing up years. The unusual and imaginative antics of young Billy and his best friend, Robert Lisenby, probably don’t need to be recorded on paper. They lived only two houses from each other, and always checked out both mothers as to who had prepared the best supper, and that was where they both spent the evening meal.
Even as a young boy, Billy excelled in sports, football being his favorite. Billy Knowles and good friend, Mickey Andrews, led Carroll High School in a 1959-60 football season that took Carroll High fifty years to break! As “All-Americans” in high school, upon graduation, both on full football scholarship, Billy joined the Georgia Bulldogs while Mickey chose The Crimson Tide.
During his freshman year, Billy was responsible for starting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Chapter at Georgia. He continued to excel as a running back for the Bulldogs, playing both offense and defense. He was elected Captain of the Georgia Bulldogs his Senior year. After graduation from the University of Georgia, Billy joined the coaching staff of Dothan High School. Three years later, the head coach at Melbourne High School in Melbourne, Florida was leaving to join Auburn University as an Assistant Coach. His and Billy’s paths having crossed in the past, he recommended Billy for the job. Upon interviewing Billy, Melbourne High offered him the head coach position, and he answered the call. After another three years of coaching, having established himself as a great disciplinarian, and, having received his Master Degree in Education, he left coaching and went into school administration. For the next thirty plus years, Billy served in Vice-Principal and Principal positions at Melbourne High School, Rockledge High, Eau Gallie High, and Central Junior High School. At Central, he oversaw the planning and construction of a brand new building and several new concepts in school buildings and teaching labs. After completing the Central Jr. High School project, and thirty-one years in the Brevard County School System, Billy retired.
After retirement, Billy and his wife Alice, moved back to the Wiregrass, settling in Kinsey, to be close to Billy’s children and his parents who lived in Headland. Billy was known to donate to and support many good causes.
Some included the local Food Bank, Paws of Honor and Disabled Veterans, as well as local fire and police. Billy was inducted into the Wiregrass Hall of Fame in 2002. A faithful member of First Baptist Church Headland, where his Sunday School Class, the “Barnabas Class” supported him with meals and visits for the ten plus years that he cared for his wife, Alice, suffering with Alzheimer’s.
After his wife, Alice, passed away, Billy married his sixth-grade “Sweetheart,” Ann Norris Adams, whose husband, Jesse, had passed away with Parkinson’s disease several years earlier. Billy was already realizing that he was experiencing memory problems. After they had agreed to spend the rest of their lives together, one day Billy told Ann, “I love you more than life, but I don’t ever want to hurt you and I don’t want to hurt your girls, but I don’t know where I’m headed.” Ann replied, “I don’t know where you’re headed either, but I’m headed there with you!” And in the short four plus wonderful years that God has given them, they have seen Billy survive Prostate Cancer. Spending three months in Sarasota, Florida for Billy’s treatments at the Dattoli Cancer Center and Brachytherapy Research Facility. Over a year ago, upon his annual follow-up appointment, Dr. Michel J. Dattoli shared the good news that Billy was “Cancer Free.” As we said earlier, Billy has always supported the under-dog in all situations. As he wished, the family has agreed to donate his brain to The Boston Medical Center working with the organization, “Concussion Legacy Foundation” researching CTE. A wonderful neurologist at UAB diagnosed Billy with Frontal Lobe Brain Disorder, as CTE can only be fully diagnosed post mortem. Hopefully this research will one day provide the ability to diagnose CTE in a living person. No cure may ever be found, but perhaps it will lead to medications that can provide a better life while suffering with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Billy was preceded in death by his mother and father, Mary Alice and Cecil Knowles, Sr., wife, Alice E. Knowles, and grandson, Blake Knowles. He is survived by his wife, Ann Adams Knowles; sons, Kurt (Christy) Knowles, Mike (Wynne) Knowles, Stan (Apryl) Stanfill, and Jake Stanfill; Daughters, Kelly Knowles Briceno, Jill (David) Bailey, Ellen Adams (Alan) Russell and Amanda Adams Dalton; two sisters, Charlotte (Gene) Wyatt of Mobile and Linda (Larry) Shaver of Troy, Alabama; grandchildren August (Ivan) Citlahua, Spencer Knowles, Gage Knowles, Kyle Bailey, James Bailey, Cole Stanfill, Jack Stanfill, Sam Stanfill, Cody (Tanya) Bradley; great-grandchildren, Maverick Bradley, and Emmalyn Bradley.
Although Billy loved the outdoors and beautiful flowers, memorials may be made to First Baptist Church Headland Youth Ministry, 301 East Church Street, Headland, AL 36345; Boston University CTE Center https://bit.ly/bu_cte . and SouthernCare Hospice, 2576 Montgomery Highway, Suite 2, Dothan, Alabama 36303.