Willie Franklin Dilbeck
W. F. Dilbeck, early 1950s
Willie Franklin Dilbeck (Will, Bill, or W. F.) (see Dilbecks of Dawson County), born February 5, 1913, Charleston, Tennessee, died July 9, 1991, Cherokee Co., North Carolina, buried in Godfrey section of Coal Mountain Cemetary, Forsyth Co., Georgia. He married, on November 25, 1950, East Point, Georgia (in her parents home), Mattie Lee Godfrey (Mattie Lee) (1920- ) born November 6, 1920, Gainesville, Georgia.
They had 2 children:
Batis and Mary Dilbeck
Willie Franklin Dilbeck: 1913 - 1991
by Mattie Lee Dilbeck
Only a tree remains at the home place where Willie Franklin Dilbeck was born on February 5, 1913 near Benton, Tennessee. The house was built on the line of Bradley and Polk counties and his birth was in Bradley County.and listed in the town of Charleston; however, he considered Benton his home town.
"Will", as he was called by all his relatives, was the tenth living child of William Batis Dilbeck and Mary Manervy Carney Dilbeck from Dawson County, GA. He and his brothers worked on the farm of their father or under his supervision for other farmers. They often cultivated, harvested, and loaded dozens of box car loads of corn for northern markets. This was not easy in those years when there were no trucks, tractors, nor corn-pickers. During this time of no-fenced pastures, they had to drive their cattle to open-range pastures in the spring and herd them home in the fall. Will recalled cattle camps on Chillowee Mt. (natives say Chill-high Mountain) and going on the cattle drives to the copper basin on the trail. After the dirt and gravel "Water Level Road" was built and wagons could be used, his father often went along. (U.S.Highway 64 is on part of that old road).
Will worked in Chattanooga, TN, but called Benton "home", during the winter of 1936, after his father died of a heart attack on August 17, 1936. The next spring, Will worked for a railroad and lived in their "Camp Cars" for more than a year. Will worked for the TVA when the work began on Ocoee Dam #3 in 1941. He used an axe to help clear the right-of-way for the first 3 days, then he became a truck driver. He hauled equipment, lumber, gravel, sand, etc. from the railroad station at Ducktown, TN to the work site. During this time, he boarded in Ducktown, and Copperhill, TN.
Will (now called Bill by many) told me on April 12, 1981, that he hauled, some or all, of the rails from the Caney Creek Railroad to the Hiawassee River damsite. He made some of these trips by way of Hyw 294 and others on the old river road from Murphy, NC. Joe Brown Highway was later constructed around Hiawassee Lake and over Texana Mountain to Murphy and Bill lived on that road in the Grape Creek Community all his retirement years (1976-1991). He also showed me from a lookout point off Hyw. 64 where the Ocoee Dam # 3 is located. Water is carried through a mountain in an underground tunnel 2-1/2 miles down stream to the powerhouse on Hyw. 64.
Bill was transferred to the just-started Fontana Dam in NC. He operated a concrete vibrator for a week before becoming a bulldozer operator. The work on those high mountains seemed too dangerous, so he left the job and the bulldozer. A friend wanted him to help drive a truck to Houston, TX, so he went to Texas for a month. He enjoyed a couple of weeks visit with a friend in Houston and one in Dallas (former co-workers) before returning to Tennessee. He then worked for Southern Blow Pipe & Roofing Co. in Chattanooga.
Bill also talked to me on April 12,1981 about his work at Oak Ridge, TN. from March 1942 to the summer of 1943. He was one of the early construction workers (Badge # 23) with Wright and Lopez Co. and drove a truck for them. This company built houses, barracks, and the "Y-Building". The first buildings to be finished in that "barbed-wire-city-of-secrecy" were the hospital and fire station. (Bill and each worker had to take a five-year secrecy oath before they could help build America's first atomic city.)
After three months, Bill's former employer, Southern Blow Pipe and Roofing Co., reached him through the personal office.and he was given badge #1490. This company roofed the buildings with wooden decks and built-up types or tar and gravel. But, the "Y-Building" had decks of 18-in. concrete slabs that took two cranes to set them in place. the roofing was completed in about one year and Bill's job of supply supervisor was terminated. Bill was hired by the Motor Pool, but did not like the hours of waiting in a hot automobile for the government officials. He quit after a few weeks and went to Chattanooga to again work for Southern Blow Pipe and Roofing Co.
Bill's brother Brownlow was at Oak Ridge before Bill. They boarded in the same house in Knoxville but rarely saw each other. This was a less expensive place to live than in the Boom Town of barracks, dormitories, single and multi-family dwellings, trailers, victory cottages, and tents that were in acres of mud in winter and dust in summer. Brownlow worked another year at Oak Ridge after Bill went to Chattanooga.
In 1943, Bill was hired for a "short job" at Chattanooga Glass Co. He worked 2 or 3 months making "fruit jars" (canning jars) and Coca Cola bottles. Sometime in 1943, Bill was at Ft. Oglethorpe for a few months and helped to string a communications line to Ft. Jackson, SC. During 1944-1946, Bill worked for Happy Valley Farms in north Georgia. He drove their cattle truck, traveled with the show cattle on trains, and helped show them at fairs and cattle shows. He traveled to every state and some islands during that time.
Bill worked for Ledbetter & Johnson Road Construction Co. for 3 weeks in 1946. He was on a job near Canton, GA and was knocked from a boom and fell on top of a pick-up truck. He was in the hospital with his broken back, but surgery was not done for fear of paralyzing his legs. He was dismissed, but could not straighten his back. He had to walk bent over and used a walking stick. During the 6 or 7 months he was unable to work, Bill had a room in Marietta, GA, and visited "Brown, Deb & the kids", and the Bud Greens in Benton, TN. He did not stay any with "Granny" (his mother) as she lived at Em Williams then. Later an Osteopath in Tennessee was able to get Bill's back to straighten, but one leg was left an inch shorter than the other until a miraculous healing in 1984.
In 1947, Bill worked 2 cattle shows (5 weeks) with Happy Valley Farms. He then worked with M. M. Hedges in Chattanooga, TN until after we married on 11/25/1950.
(As told to Mattie Lee Dilbeck on 7/12/1980 and 4/12/1981)
1991 (articles to revise )
Bill has an appointment next Wednesday, Feb. 6, 1991, with a urologist as the enzyme test was slightly elevated. This is to rule out prostate cancer.
Monday May 13, 1991
Willie F. Dilbeck and I drove to Dawsonville, GA where he helped setup the Civil War Marker at his grandfather Dilbeck's gravesite on Cantrell Rd. on the old home place of Batis Dilbeck [William Batis Dilbeck]. He wanted it to be setup before The Dilbeck Reunion in June 1991.
After I made pictures of Wm. W. Dilbeck's (Bill's grandfather) [William Willis Dilbeck] new Civil War Marker in the woods at the old home place north of Dawsonville, GA, we rode on to Pleasant Union Church and made pictures of Farriba markers there. Bill's grand mother, Debby, was a Farriba and we think these markers belong to her brother and his family. Debby was a charter member of Pleasant Union and many members of Bill's family were on the church roll. I had not seen Fawcett's Lake that is in the area of earlier Dilbeck homes and Bill agreed to drive the few extra miles. Dawson County records show W. W. Dilbeck and his first wife had lived in that cove, too. (It was here the five Dilbeck brothers camped when they came to Georgia from North Carolina. Bill's grandfather was the youngest of those five).
Willie F. Dilbeck died 7-09-1991 at home in his favorite chair of a heart attack. He is buried with my Godfrey family in the Coal Mountain Cemetery, Forsyth County, GA.
Nov. 6, 1991
Of course, I missed Bill. I bought myself a book of stamps as a birthday present from him with the last of the money from the sale of his aluminum cans.
Feb. 5, 1993
Today would have been Bill's 80th. birthday. I cooked and decorated him a birthday cake today. Then this evening, I watched Perry Mason just as we did so many times before - pretending he sat across from me in his recliner. I have missed him so very much these past 19 months. Geneva telephoned before noon and Johnny this evening. Both were thinking of Bill's birthday and my day without him. Thank You, Lord, for their calls.
by John Dilbeck
I don't talk much about it, but there are days when I really miss Dad. There are so many reminders of him here, and whenever I work in my smithy, I think of him a lot. Right next to my slack tub is the post where he used to bend walking sticks. The slack tub is an old galvanized tub that we used years ago to wash dogs. There are several unfinished walking sticks up in the rafters overhead.
I'm sure there are many things Dad could still teach me, but I'll have to muddle along and learn them on my own.
I have some very good memories of Dad. He was a kind and loving man, soft spoken and quiet. Yet, he was not a man to push around. I never saw him hurt anyone, but I've seen him chase much bigger men than him off of motorgraders, dive over his boss's desk when his boss was way out of line, and put his old pocket knife up against an especially obnoxious man's neck until that man reconsidered his actions and words. Dad was someone who meant business, but he was never mean nor hurtful. He is thought of highly by just about everyone who knew him.
When I was a kid living on Branch Street, in College Park, Georgia in the early 1950s, Dad went to work. That's all I knew. Then he came home. I always looked forward to seeing him come home.
Later, in the early 1960s, we moved to Florida and lived close to Vero Beach. Dad worked for Indian River Packing Exchange (I think that was the name) as a tractor driver and later became a foreman overseeing thousands of acres of citrus groves. We lived in a tiny trailer in the middle of a 600 acre grove with our nearest neighbors over a mile away. I loved the isolation (usually) and always had time to read and think. I absolutely hated the summers there. I've never been hotter nor more miserable than then. I'd take a shower in the morning and never dry off the rest of the day. I was so happy when Mom and Dad decided to move back to the area south of Atlanta.
When we moved back, Dad got a job as foreman at Mullins Brothers Paving Contractors in East Point, Georgia. Later he became their main truck driver and hauled equipment all over the Atlanta area and drove the tanker to Savannah on a regular basis to bring back tons of hot asphalt for their asphalt plant. I worked there several summers and a couple of years full-time. It was the hardest and hottest work I've ever done. It was even harder than working in the fiberglas plant, but it was a different kind of hard. Dad was always a hard worker and conscientious about doing his best. I learned some valuable lessons working with him, and only acted like a real jerk a few times. Dad worked at Mullins Brothers until he retired and moved to Murphy, North Carolina.
Here, he worked doing odd jobs and mowing grass, and later at the cattle auction. He was never much for just sitting, although I have very fond memories of him in his favorite easy chair with a big yellow cat on his lap.
When I was married to Kathleen, we always enjoyed spotting that first flake of snow and calling Dad.
We'd ask, "How deep's the snow?"
Without a moment's hesitation, he'd reply, "It's nearly knee deep."
That was almost always the start of the conversation. Through everything that ever happened, I always seem to remember Dad with a ready grin and a laugh.
If I had to pick one thing as a life lesson that I learned from Dad, it would be to work hard and do what you say you're going to do. And never let someone who pays you to do something ever think that they own you. As I once told someone, "I'm not for sale." I think Dad would have been proud.