Cyrial Cotton (Bill) Galloway passed away Wednesday, October 9, 2019, following a sudden and brief illness. He was 92 years of age. Bill left this life peacefully surrounded by his family at his home in Sweet Gum Head, Fla.
Born March 26, 1927, to the late William Armphy Galloway and Charity Daisy (Cotton) Galloway, Bill was the 12th of 14 children. Bill spent his youth in the Sweet Gum Head community – farming his dad’s property and roaming the creek beds and woods with his brothers.
As a young teenager while attending Leonia High School, Bill met the love of his life, Willie Helen Commander, also of Sweet Gum Head. Thus began a love story for the ages. Following the burning of the Leonia School, Bill and Helen transferred to Ponce de Leon High School. However, before he and Helen could marry, Uncle Sam intervened. Bill turned 18 on March 26, 1945. On April 27th, he graduated Ponce de Leon High School (with his sweet Helen by his side) and on May 23rd was drafted into the U.S. Army. Upon completion of basic training from Camp Gordon (now Fort Gordon), Bill was assigned to the Occupation Forces in Fukuoka, Japan. Thanks largely to his keen automotive skills, Bill rose to the rank of Motor Sergeant serving for the Headquarters Company, 1113th Engineer Construction Group. Offered the promise of promotion to Master Sergeant if he’d extend his service, Bill, who was firmly set on returning to his much-loved Sweet Gum Head and his beloved Helen, politely refused the offer and was discharged on December 12, 1946.
The childhood sweethearts married August 7, 1948, and, except for a short period of time, were life-long residents of Holmes County.
In June 1953, after spending some time in a civil service job at Fort Rucker, Bill graduated Florida State University with a B.S. in Business Administration. In 1954, Bill and Helen both began teaching jobs at Bethlehem High School. In 1965, after receiving his M.A. in Supervision and Administration from the University of Alabama, Bill became principal at Bethlehem and served in that capacity until he left Bethlehem in 1972. While other jobs in education would come and go, none would ever compare with the joy he received from his work at Bethlehem. Many of the students that Bill and Helen taught and mentored in those early years became their life-long friends. In his later years, Bill greatly anticipated receiving his invitation to and attending the Bethlehem class reunions where he always felt loved and honored.
While still at Bethlehem, in March 1959, Bill completed construction on a new home in Sweet Gum Head, Florida. He moved Helen and their three sons into their new home, where they would later complete their family with two daughters and live out the remainder of their lives.
Following his work at Bethlehem, Bill served in the Holmes County School Administrator’s Office for one year and then moved to Ponce de Leon School where he served as principal from 1973 to 1981. Bill then returned to the county offices where he served until his retirement in January, 1988. Bill was a member of Phi Delta Kappa and an honorary member of the Florida Association of Future Homemakers of America (now FCCLA) and several local FHA and Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters.
In his retirement, Bill continued to give back to his community through his involvement with the Holmes County Development Commission and Farm Service Agency. In 2017, Bill earned his 65-year pin with the Masonic Lodge at New Hope (where in his earlier days he was also a former Lodge Grand Master). He was instrumental in the building of the War World II Monument erected in the Leonia Cemetery and served as president of the Leonia High School Alumni Association for more than a decade.
Retirement also provided Bill with time to pursue his many hobbies and passions – of which there were many. If you visited Bill, you might find him in his woodworking shop or restoring Model A Fords. Or, you might find him in his home office at his desk carefully preparing tax statements for many friends, family and past students. Beginning in May, you would find him preparing for the annual week-long Byrd/Galloway fishing trip in Apalachicola, FL. Bill was an avid fly fisherman, and he never missed a trip in 40 years. Bill loved Christmas, and spent hours in his living room recliner, carefully organizing the 39 stockings (representing his children and their spouses, grandchildren and their spouses and great grandchildren) that he would hang on his mantel with special rigging he designed each Christmas. Other hobbies included coin collecting, doting on his grandchildren and great grandchildren, and attending the annual Galloway family and Leonia School reunions. There are many more little things that became part of the fabric of Bill’s later years – daily breakfast at Two Cousins in Darlington, Fla., and later at Crews in Samson, Ala.; back porch talks and story times; fish fries; quail hunts; and visits from his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, former students and friends. No matter what he was doing in these later years, his best friend and constant companion was Buddy – his blue heeler mix who was always by his side.
Bill was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 64 years, Willie Helen (Commander) Galloway; his parents, William Armphy Galloway and Charity Daisy (Cotton) Galloway; nine brothers (Cleo, Cliff, W.A., Jr., Murdoc, Reo, Buford, Clyde, Drew, Sr., infant brother, Harvey) and three sisters (Celeste Outlaw Bowdoin, Ruby Hutson, and Vallie Riddle).
Bill is survived by his five children and their spouses, Gary Leon Galloway and wife Sherron Byrd Galloway of Sweet Gum Head, Fla., Dr. Jerry Brian Galloway and his wife Joy Sheryl (Phillips) Galloway of Geneva, Ala., Hilton Cyrial Galloway and his wife Martha Hammond Galloway of Enterprise, Ala., Mary Helen Galloway Platt and her husband Dr. Richard Gordon "Richie" Platt of Pensacola, Fla., and Melissa Lynn "Lisa" Middleton and husband Charles Albert "Chuck" Middleton of Dallas, Tex. He is also survived by seven grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, Sherri Dawn (Galloway) Campbell and husband Donald "Don" Renwick Campbell of Pensacola, Fla., and their children Colton LaDon, Ashton Grace, Evelyn Faith, and Cecilia "CeCe" Love; Eric Leon Galloway and wife Magen Sarah (Madaris) Galloway of Defuniak Springs, Fla., and their children Gage Leon, Hutch Cotton, and Curtis Thomas; Nicole Leigh (Galloway) Sewell and husband Jonathan Andrew Sewell of Samson, Ala., and their children Sawyer Quinn, Zander Drake, Fisher Cole and Vivian Leigh; Jared Brian Galloway of Pensacola, Fla.; William "Will" Garrett Galloway of Montgomery, Ala.; Sarah Leanne (Galloway) Dunaway and husband Tyler Wayne Dunaway of Enterprise, Ala. and their children Bryce Cyrial and Elyse Leanne, and Emily Helen (Galloway) Smith and her husband Joshua Phillip Smith of Milton, Fla.
Bill is also survived by his sister Ottilia Patricia (Galloway) Andrews of Sweet Gum Head, Fla., his brother Clyde’s wife Dorothy Davis Galloway of Tallahassee, Fla.; his brother-in-law Ernest Gene Commander, Sr. and wife Carolyn Louise (Coursey) Commander of Sweet Gum Head and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank his special caregivers, including Vanessa Hamilton, Ruthie Williams and Covenant Hospice – Western Division, and all the friends who visited Bill throughout the years, especially in his final weeks.
Serving as active pall bearers are Gene Commander, Eric Galloway, Jared Galloway, Will Galloway, Tyler Dunaway, and Josh Smith. Honorary pall bearers were Howard Bottoms, Archie D. Byrd, Junior Justice, Eddie King, Bob Moyer, Roger Owen, Wayne Smith, Gary Treadwell, and Hilton Byrd. Officiates are Don Campbell and Jonathan Sewell of Sweet Gum Head Church of Christ in Sweet Gum Head, Fla. The family will receive visitors Friday, October 11, 2019, at Pittman Funeral Home in Geneva, Ala. from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. The funeral will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, October 12, 2019, at the Sweet Gum Head Church of Christ on Hwy. 185 with graveside services at the Tara Cemetery located approx. ½ mile from Hwy 185 on Tara-Cylebrico Road.