Willie E. "Gene" Dillard, Jr.

Willie E.


Passed: Sunday, June 18, 2023

Birth Date: Monday, February 18, 1946
Age: 76
Location: Lyman

Willie E. "Gene" Dillard, Jr. passed away at home on February 22, 2023.

Gene was born on June 18, 1946, in Spartanburg. He was the son of the late Elaine Wilson Dillard and Willie E. "Gene" Dillard, Sr. Gene grew up in Wellford, S.C.,, with his sister, Peggy and brother, Wilson.

Gene graduated James F. Byrnes High School in Duncan, where he was a North/ South All-Star football selection as a senior and Appalachian State University, where he played football for Coaches Jim Duncan and Carl Messere. Gene fondly remembered his time at ASU and the many friends he made there.

Gene was an educator. He was a teacher and an assistant football coach at his alma mater, Byrnes High School, alongside his longtime friend, high school and college teammate, Bo Corne. Gene also coached track at Byrnes.

Even as a coach, he loved to teach. Blocking schemes and technique, among other skills, and he was an early believer in tracking and grading offensive and defensive performance.

After he stepped away from coaching, he remained a committed teacher at Byrnes until his retirement. Gene took pride in working closely with students who were sometimes overlooked and unappreciated and took great care in their education and especially their high school experience.

After his retirement from teaching, Gene began a second career as a part-time musician, leading the Bluegrass Jam at The Handlebar in Greenville, always with his familiar upright bass. He made many lifelong friends in the Greenville music scene and cherished making music with them or just spending time with them. He also enjoyed playing various private gigs, especially those who tolerated him singing lead on Billy Joe Shaver's "Georgia on Fast Train," or Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell's "Stuff That Works," both personal favorites.

Gene loved music, but especially bluegrass, Turner Classic Movies, Abbott and Costello, The Marx Brothers and Monty Python, a well written song and irony. To know him, was to be witness to his wit and the driest sense of humor in the room.


He is survived by his son, John Willie Dillard and his partner, Marci Andino; brother, Wilson and his wife, Jane; nieces, Seely Dillard Floyd and her husband, Trevor, Floreed Turner, and Kelly Martin Wilson and her husband, Scott; and beloved great nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Peggy Dillard Turner, and her husband, Gene.

Funeral Services:

The family will receive friends at The Wood Mortuary, Greer, S..C, on March 2, 2023 from 6 - 8 p.m.

A celebration of life will follow at a time to be determined. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to: Middle Tyger Community Center, 84 Groce Road, Lyman, SC 29365; or the charity of one's choice.

Online condolences may be made at www.thewoodmortuary.com.

Wood Mortuary

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