Bessie L.H. Gilliam

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Mrs. Bessie Lee Hargraves Gilliam, 93, formerly of 534 Halifax St., and Golden Living Center-Battlefield Park Convalescent Center, peacefully entered eternal rest on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, at Vibra Hospital in Richmond.

She was born the daughter of the late Early W. Hargraves and Bessie Turner Hargraves on Jan. 7, 1921, in Elizabeth City, N.C. She was preceded in death by her sister, Earline Hargraves, and her husband of many years, Matthew S. Gilliam Jr.

"Bessie Lee" as she was known to her close friends and family, was a life long resident of Petersburg. She spent most of her early years in the company of her grandmother who resided on Harding Street. Upon her marriage to her husband, Matthew ("Stanley" or "Stan" as he was known to family and friends), she resided on Halifax Street for over 50 years. She was a graduate of D. Webster Davis High School and lifelong member of St. Stephens Protestant Episcopal Church on Halifax Street.

Left to cherish her memory are: her son, Matthew S. (Ricki) Gilliam III of Woodbridge; grandchildren, Dominique Gilliam and Kimberly King of Richmond, and Demetra Relaford of Denver, Colo.; great-grandchildren, Thomas Smith, Shelby Smith, and Sydney Smith, all of Richmond.

In addition she leaves behind a host of other cousins including: Judy Turner Williams (Linwood) of Columbia, Md., Alease Turner Williams (Henry) of Bethesda, Md., and Lula P. Moore ("Bootise" - whom Bessie helped to raise and raised together as sisters) of Philadelphia, Pa.

The family would like to thank the caring staff of Golden Living-Battlefield Park Convalescent Center on Flank Road in Petersburg, for their service, care, and support during the past 10 years that Bessie resided there.

Memorial service for Mrs. Bessie Lee Hargraves Gilliam is planned for a future date and will be held at Wilkerson Memorial Cemetery.

Correspondence may be sent to Matthew Gilliam, P.O. Box 7046, Woodbridge, VA 22195-7046 and may be contacted by calling 703-738-0573.

In lieu of flowers and other expressions of sympathy, donations may be made to St. Stephens Episcopal Church, 228 Halifax St., Petersburg, VA 23803.

Family members and friends are invited to pay final tribute to Mrs. Gilliam online at

Funeral arrangements entrusted to the staff of J.M. Wilkerson Funeral Establishment Inc., 102 South Ave., Petersburg, 804-732-8911,
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J M Wilkerson Funeral Establishment, Inc.
102 South Avenue
Petersburg, VA 23803
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Published in The Progress-Index from May 11 to May 18, 2014
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