Billy Frank Stiles, 91, of Charleston, South Carolina, husband of Betty (Swanson) Stiles, died Tuesday, October 31, 2023, at Roper St. Francis Hospital surrounded by family. A private service will be held on Tuesday November 7, 2023, with arrangements by J. Henry Stuhr, Inc. West Ashley Chapel.
Billy was born on May 18, 1932, in Closplint, Kentucky. He was the son of the late Harry and Clara (Smith) Stiles and was the middle child between an older sister Floy and a younger brother Bobby Gene. At the young age of 18, Billy left the difficult life of coal mining in the Kentucky mountains and headed to Detroit, Michigan for a better opportunity in the automotive industry. It was during this time that Billy found a knack for working on cars, which became a true passion.
Billy answered the nation’s call during the Korean War and was drafted into the US Air Force in 1951. At the conflict’s conclusion, he made the decision that the military life was where he wished to remain for his career. While stationed in California, Billy met the love of his life and future wife, Betty (Swanson). He eventually obtained the rank of Chief Master Sergent in the US Air Force while also earning an associate degree from the University of South Carolina. One of Billy’s proudest achievements during his time in the military was working as a medic as part of the emergency crew at Cape Canaveral during NASA’s Project Mercury. He was instrumental in developing a drug rehabilitation center in Texas and took great joy in working in delivery rooms helping to deliver babies. After retiring from active duty, Billy went on to work for the VA hospital as an administrator specializing in the field of Psychiatry.
Billy loved to share stories of his time based in Germany while in the Air Force. He had great memories of taking his young family on road trips through much of the European countryside. He also recalled fondly, stories of a “much larger and more rambunctious” family of six crammed into a single car and making cross-country trips to South Dakota and Virgina to visit extended family. He spent many years on the sidelines coaching the boys in youth baseball and football. Billy was an avid golfer and loved to bowl. He also was an apparent pool shark (the evidence being Ziplock bags full of loose change brought home after hustling his friends at the VFW). He could restore just about anything including furniture, small engines, and even a classic 1966 Mustang. He drove that Mustang to work every day until he realized that Charleston was “just too hot for no air condition.” He kept an immaculate yard and was an avid lover of classic country music. More than anything, Billy enjoyed spending time with his family.
Billy is survived by his wife of 67 Years Betty; four children: William Stiles of Goose Creek, SC, Richard Stiles (Bonnie) of Surfside, SC, Glenn Stiles (Gail) of Goose Creek, SC and Gretchen Golden (Neal) of Mount Pleasant, SC; four grandchildren: Erica Navarro (Daniel), Megan Schulz (Adam), Jameson and Sarah Golden; four great grandchildren: Hazel and Emmett Navarro and Amelia and Gaines Shulz; and brother Bobby Gene Stiles (Shirley) of Washington, DC. He was predeceased by his sister, Floy Kelly (James) of Big Stone Gap, VA.
Memorials may be made to the American Heart Association 7272 Greenville Ave, Dallas, TX 75231.