William Woods “Billy” Bedford, Sr., of Smyrna, gospel quartet singer

William “Billy” Bedford, Sr. lived a life that embodied what he preached: Seek God first.

“He taught us to put God first no matter what we come upon, because God is able to lead and direct us through all our problems,”said his son, Kerry Bedford. It was a philosophy that Mr. Bedford shared with others.

“Whenever someone would come to him with a problem, his response would be ‘God will work it out,’” according to another son, Jerome Bedford, who worked at Lockheed-Martin as his father did. “People would come up to me and say, ‘Your dad helped save my marriage,’ or ‘Your dad helped me get off drugs,’ he just had that kind of impact.”

William Woods “Billy” Bedford, Sr., of Smyrna, died Sept. 18 after a brief illness. He was 76. A funeral service will be held Saturday, Sept. 29 at 11 a.m. at Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Marietta. Griner Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Mr. Bedford was devoted to his church, serving as a deacon at Mount Zion First Baptist Church in Smyrna for over 40 years. “He would get up, even if he was in pain, and still make it to church on Sundays,” according to his grandson-in-law, Demetrius Simon.

Mr. Bedford was born on June 9, 1936 in Smyrna, one of 13 children. He was married to Margaret E. Bedford for 56 years and they had eight children.

He served in the U.S. Army and later worked as a tool designer at Lockheed-Martin where he retired after 32 years of service.

Mr. Bedford grew up in a family of singers and was a member of the Spiritual Aires of Smyrna for over 50 years. The group, started by his brother, Alvin Bedford, is considered one of the oldest African-American gospel quartet groups in Cobb County.

His daughter, Melanie Bedford, described her father as a happy person who touched many lives. “You couldn’t do anything but love the Lord being around my parents,” she said. “He was still praying and singing when he was in the hospital.”

Mr. Bedford also had a passion for baseball. Mr. Simon recalled stories that Mr. Bedford had shared with him over the years. “He told me that he played for the Smyrna A’s baseball team and said he was the best hind catcher around.” He laughed as he shared a story about a time Mr. Bedford “got a whuppin’” for leaving the family’s mule unattended in the field while he went to play baseball, and the mule ended up at the neighbor’s house.

Another son, Ronnie Bedford, said his father, “…was a legend. And he stood on faith. He didn’t have any enemies because of the life he lived.”

In addition to his wife, sons, daughter and brother, Mr. Bedford is survived by daughters, Pamela Bedford Tanksley, Regina Bedford Myrick and Jacquelene Bedford McKinney; son, William Bedford Jr.; three sisters, Annie Mae Dukes, Louise Mitchell and Patricia Phillips; 21 grandchildren; 25 great-grandchildren; two great-great grandchildren; and one great-great-great grandchild.

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