Billy J. Dillard was born May 28, 1930 in Afton, Texas and passed away December 19, 2012. Bill was one of three children born to Mack Donald Dillard and Virgie Holson Dillard. Bill left home at a very young age making his way to Wyoming where he attended Thermopolis High School. After graduating he joined the National Guard of the State of Wyoming where he rose in rank to Corporal, Battery "A" 300th. Armd Fa Batallion. He was also a member of the United States Army serving two years in Korea. He received the Korean Service Medal w/2 Bronze Service Stars and a distinguished Unit Citation. Bill's love of everything "western" led him to become a bareback bronco rider on the rodeo circuit. It was at one of these rodeos that he spotted Ila Mae Hill and said, "she's gonna be my wife." He was right; they were married October 17, 1954 in Kansas. Ila was the love of his life and he remained devoted to her till her passing on April 16, 2012. Soon after their marriage they came to the Coachella Valley with the Bud Hancock family. Bill worked on the Hancock ranch for many years as a farm hand and a mechanic on the farm machinery. He left there to work for The Feed Lot in Thermal. Bill drove a truck for Cox's Gas Co. in Coachella. His last job before retirement was a mechanic/welder at Valley Verde Tractor and Farm Equipment Co. Bill and Ila were members of the Elks Club in Indio for many years. They loved to get in their RV and go with the Elks/Drifters on trips throughout California. One of these trips Bill was the official pancake maker with his special beer batter. He also shared his culinary talents with the Coachella Valley Vaqueros, a fund raising group for the Riverside County Sheriff Posse. Bill was one of the founding members of the Vaqueros and a sworn in Deputy Sheriff with the Riverside County Sheriff's Office through the Vaqueros. Bill and Ila where quite the dancers. They were the first ones on the floor at the Vaqueros barbeques/dances. It was a toss up as to which one was Bill's favorite passion, fishing or sports. If anyone mentioned fishing he was ready to go. Most weekends found him in front of the TV watching college sports, the USC Trojans being his favorite college team. The New Orleans Saints became his favorite NFL team after the Rams left LA. Bill is survived by daughter Cheryl L. Dillard of La Quinta, Calif.; sons Charles M. Dillard of Desert Hot Springs and Don R. Dillard of Indio, Calif.; sister Ida Mae Wright of Elk City, Okla. He was preceded in death by his wife Ila Mae Dillard, parents Mack and Virgie Dillard, and sister Opal Faye Mayes. A military service will be held January 2, 2013 at the Riverside National Cemetery 22495 Van Buren Blvd. Riverside, Calif. (Across from March Air Base) at 10:15 a.m. A memorial service will be held later at the family home. FitzHenry-Wiefels Indio Directors.
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Published in The Desert Sun on Dec. 31, 2012