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empty Posted June 2001
Angela Watkins
Angela Watkins
Celebrating Father Of The Year: 
Mr. BMW 

by: Angela Watkins

We bid you joy...our fathers, uncles, brothers, our heroes, our friends...

Dr. V. J. Caldwell explained to us that W. D. Rawls, Sr. or 'Bill' was three BMW's wrapped up in one.  BMW stands for a "Black Man Working", "Black Man Worshiping" and a "Black Man Willing". Dr. Caldwell explained also that Bill possessed three P's which stood for Present, Protector and Provider. 

The Willette Beard Family knew 'Bill as a man that was willing to help, present to help, and at times he was a source of providing many forms of assistance. In the early 1990's Willette went to Bill and asked him for help; my daughter is being dismissed from the hospital and she can not ride in a car comfortably coming home and he said, "Bill, how am I going to get her home"?  Bill told Willette I will give you a limousine and a driver. Then Willette's next question was, "Bill, how much will that cost and Bill replied to Willette whatever you want to give me.

W. D. Rawls, Sr. lived a life which exemplified fortitude, strength of character, body and mind. Bill was ever patient, courageous and very unafraid.

On February 7, 1998 I had the privilege of talking with W. D. Rawls Sr. at Burger King in Brownsville.  He came into Burger King and ordered his breakfast; walked around and spoke to all the business men and socialites. Then he picked up his breakfast tray and came over and said, "Is it ok if I sit here and eat my breakfast?" I replied sure.  The late 'Bill' knew how to talk with crowds and believe me he kept his virtue. Bill' could walk with Kings but he never lost his common touch.

On this day Bill was just telling me how he treasured his children as rare jewels in a far country.  He often called Bill Jr., "Junior". 

Bill wanted to know what was I doing in Brownsville and what was I reading.  I shared the journals with him as he sat there and ate his breakfast. Bill told me while you are here reading and writing I want to give you a few tips:  Learn to take care of yourself so you will be able to help others, focus on your goals for the future, learn to put your writing to work for you, learn to network with people, hold fast to become a contributor, information/skills will empower you, learn about everything - earn your doctorate, hold on to discipline, know what you want, use your networks, work hard, be patience and you will see you dream. 

I believe that Bill often thought of Hezekiah.  According to the Bible, it seems that Hezekiah was a very famous person.  Hezekiah was sick, and as a result of his prayers, God healed him. Hezekiah is renowned for his success.  He was successful in health, praying for health so successfully that God allowed him to live for an extra fifteen years. (Isaiah 38:5). Hezekiah was successful in honor and other possessions (2 Chron 32:27-30).

Bill decided in life that he would continue in his father's professional path. The late C. A. Rawls and he entered Gupton - Jones School of Mortuary Science in Nashville, Tennessee.  He also attended Tennessee State University in Nashville, after his military duty.

Bill maintained close ties with the community. Bill served as the first African American member of the Brownsville Bank Advisory Board and was one of the first African American members of the Haywood County School Board. He was a life member of the NAACP, a member of the Middle West Tennessee Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, Tennessee State Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, American Legion, Winfield Masonic Lodge, Southwest Community Health Agency, the Election Commission and the Zoning Appeals Board.

Bill  recognized the need for spiritual guidance and was an active member of First Baptist Church where he held several leadership roles including chairman of the Trustee Board.  The congregation recognized Bill's commitment to family and honored him as Father of the Year, an award he treasured and a role he valued beyond words.

Bill  often spoke that the best five years of his life were spent with his wife, Audrey Louise Dixon. From the marriage they had three children: Bill Jr., Todd and Donna.  But in 1971, the death angel paid this loving couple a visit and Bill's  wife departed this life a few months after giving birth to their precious baby girl.

After Bill's' father died in 1987, he became president of Rawls Funeral Home in Brownsville. His commitment to Rawls Funeral Home was matched with his dedication to Golden Circle Life Insurance Company. Bill  worked as a licensed life and health insurance agent, staff manager, manager, auditor, vice president and finally chairman of the board of directors.

After his wife's untimely death, El Shaddai granted Bill patience, compassion and loving care to be both mother and father to his young children. He was there to encourage his children, teach them by example and providing for them so they could follow their heart's desire. He was blessed to see Bill, Jr. become a Morehouse graduate and again his son followed in his father's footstep; Donna an honors graduate from Hampton University/masters from Howard University also with honors; and Todd a graduate of Northwestern University and Tulane School of Law.  Bill was so proud of his children. In March, 1998 the death angel visited Bill's family again and his beloved son Todd passed.

Recommended Book Readings:
I Don't Want To Say Goodbye
by  Sylvia Caruso

The words I am dwelling on are:  difficult time,  tragic death, grieving, fragile, balancing life, powerful, fatal attraction, mutual attraction, caught between, is it real love, new life. The songs that come to mind are "I Don't Want To Say Goodbye To Yesterday", "Someday We'll Be Together" and "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."

This book is a romance novel and it touches on everyday life situations.  I did enjoy reading this book it seemed to have brought me back to Reality 101. The question is, are we really equipped to deal with the real life and the tribulations that it has?

Living In Hell: The dilemma of African-American survival
by Mose Pleasure and Fred C. Lofton, editors

I would personally recommend this book to all African American men, pastors, laymen, and youth departments.

The Willette Beard Family would like to take this time to thank Mildred, Billy, Larry, Mr. Mack, Bill Jr., Alan, Chris, Mark, Yvonne, Jason and Mr. Bonds for all kindness expressed to The Willette Beard Family.

Proverbs 3:27, Exodus 31:3
Email Angela Watkins, writer, researcher, speaker and advocate at:  or visit her websites at: or

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are used by permission. Ms. Watkins, of Henning, TN, contributes articles around the globe.

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