Monk Willeford’s family can be traced back to his grandfather, William Willeford, a wagon maker in Coffee County, Tennessee before the Civil War. William was born in 1824 and died at Pleasant Valley on Friday, December 11, 1891. William was a trustee and long time member of the Pleasant Valley Methodist Episcopal Church. William and Elizabeth had seven children; Samuel J., Mary, Susan, Sarah, William, Charles and Franklin. Elizabeth was born in 1827 and died in 1902. Both are buried at Pleasant Valley Cemetery.
Monk Willeford grew up at Pleasant Valley. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Willeford, will always be remembered as having the house down the hill with the gingerbread roof.
Monk married the former Roxie Conner on November 28, 1918. She was born and raised at Connersville, an early trading post, located in the Naaman Community on which once was known as Mud Lane. Described by oldtimers as a hustling, bustling center in the olden days. The nostalgic landmark, now antiquated and crumbling with decay, still stands, only a jog to the right of a busy throughfare, Highway 78 enroute to Sachse.
Their son, James W. Willeford, was born on June 15, 1932 in Garland, TX. He passed away November 28, 2014 in Dallas, TX, at the age of 82.
After high school in Garland, TX, James served in the United States Army for 2 years. He married his beloved, Alice Hansen, on August 5, 1957, wife of 47 years, until she preceded him in death.
James Wendell Willeford began his working career with Kraft Foods. He was a pioneer in working on the Alaskan Pipe Line. James or “Jim” started his career with Braniff Airlines in 1955 in terminal operations as a baggage handler. He was promoted to assistant customer service representative in 1966. Later on, he was promoted to manager of customer service. His last job at Braniff was manager of marketing service at the “Braniff Club”. This position opened the door to many opportunities. As one of four ACS representatives for Braniff, it was his job to look after any passenger who needed an assist.
Jim did his share of looking after the elderly and mothers with babies, but he quickly became the go-to man when it came to dealing with VIPs. He received countless numbers of thank-you letters from the business tycoons of the period to national and state politicians and celebrities.
In 1982, after 27 years of solving traveler problems at Braniff, he retired.
James spent his later years on his ranch, “The Flying W”, in Red Oak, TX, where he raised registered Beefmaster cattle. He loved working with the cattle, loved each of their many pets, and truly loved living in the country. He and Alice always had an open door for entertaining friends and family.
James W. Willeford is survived by his sisters: Hazel Keeling of Mt. Enterprise, TX; Dorothy Graff of Port Washington, WI; Lynda Morrison of Greenville, SC; and his very special long-term friend, Karen Hansen. He is also survived by a host of nieces and nephews, each of whom he loved dearly, and was lovingly known as “Uncle Willie”.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Monk and Roxie Willeford; Wife, Alice Hansen Willeford; 2 brothers: Grady Willeford and Donal Willeford; 2 sisters: Rubye Hansen, and Naomi (Tincy) Rucker. Burial was at Restland Cemetery in Dallas.
Courtesy, Garland Daily News, Dec. 19, 1968. Pleasant Valley’s Pioneer Cemetery and Bois D’arc at Nacogdoches by Jim Foster. Obituary courtesy Williams Funeral Home, Garland TX. Additional Willeford information can be found at Garland Landmark Society. Many of the earliest family members are buried in the pioneer cemetery at Pleasant Valley.