Willie Edward Grate transitioned into Eternal Rest in The Lord on Friday, April 29, 2022 at Prisma Health Richland Hospital, Columbia, South Carolina. Willie, who was also fondly known as “Ed”, “Chey” & “Frog”, began this earthly journey in the town of Loris, South Carolina in Horry County on Monday, September 10, 1945, as the middle child of 5 boys born to the late Isaac & Letha Grate. Willie was educated in the Loris County Public School System and graduated from Finklea High School, Class of 1963. Willie matriculated to Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina where he achieved a Bachelor of Arts in Education graduating in 1966. With degree in hand, Willie began his education career in the Public School System of Sparta, Georgia. However, Willie’s education career would be cut short due to being drafted in the United States Army in support of the Vietnam War. Willie received an Honorable Discharge at the rank of Private First Class (E-3) upon his return to the states. When Willie return to the states, he never returned to the career field of education, but instead became a very successful Life Insurance Salesmen. Willie embraced his natural God-Given talent and ability to speak with anyone of any age, race or economic status with ease, making them very comfortable. Using his natural people skills, Willie developed excellent marketing strategies which afforded great prosperity for both Willie and the following major insurance companies: Metropolitan Life Insurance, American Bankers Insurance and Prudential Insurance where Willie served for many years in both North and South Carolina. Always seeking a new adventure, Willie relocated to Dallas, Texas in 1989, where he worked for the Department of Defense as Personnel Officer for the 1st Battalion 158th Army Medical Reserve Unit (full-time) managing recruit intake, payroll data, retirements processing, medical records and personnel records, including the Unit's Readiness Records for Deployments. Willie would also join the Army Reserve and serve with the 1st Battalion 158th Aviation Regiment until his retirement on Friday, September 9, 2005, at the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-6) after serving 25 years as a loyal Civil Servant for the government. Always remaining active in the community, Willie was a member of the following organizations: The Easy Riders Motorcycle Club; The Sumter Jaycees; The Good Fellows Club; The Morris College National Alumni Association and The Shriner Club, where Willie held the title of 33rd Degree Master Mason. Willie also enjoyed being an entrepreneur and was co-owner of the Taurus Club. Willie’s community ties also afforded numerous opportunities to engage in his favorite sport, Golf. Willie learned to play golf as a teenager and continued to play and enjoy the sport until his health failed. A man of Faith, Willie accepted The Lord at an early age as a member of the Second Missionary Baptist Church in Loris, South Carolina. Willie was previously joined in Holy Matrimony to the late Mable Carol Blanding Grate. To this union was born one daughter, Jeemy Grate Pearson. Willie was truly fortunate to be on the receiving end of the purest form of “Servant Heart Selfless Love” in the person of his daughter Jeemy “Pretty-Girl” Grate-Pearson. As Willie’s health declined Jeemy supported her father to ensure that Willie received the absolute best Healthcare support available. Willie treasured all the love and attention he received from his daughter, son-in-Love, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Willie was predeceased by his parents, grandparents, two brothers, Fred Grate and Isaac Grate, Jr.; one sister-in-Love, Sondra Grate and his former father and mother-in-Love, the late Silas William “Bubba” and Carrie Hodges Blanding. Willie is survived by his devoted and loving daughter, Jeemy “Pretty Girl” (Gregory Singleton) Grate-Pearson; grandsons, Illya T. (Delilah) Shuler, Clayton Grate and great grandsons, Aubren Shuler and Aiven Shuler; two brothers, Joice (Halestine) Grate, Charlie (Sally) Grate; one sister, Sylvia Grate-Muir; one sister-in-Love, Linda Grate and one very special and devoted companion who was by his side until the very end, Ms. Johnnie Ruth Gamble, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends. In accordance with the COVID 19 guidelines, the family is requesting face masks and social distancing be observed by relatives and friends during all visitation at the home, 1130 Kentwood Drive, Sumter. Visitation will be Monday, 12:00 Noon to 6:00 p. m. in the John Wesley Williams Sr. Memorial Chapel of Williams Funeral Home, 821 North Main Street, Sumter. Funeral services will be held 11:00 a. m., Tuesday, May 10, 2022 at First Baptist Missionary Church, 219 South Washington Street, Sumter, with the Rev. George P. Windley, pastor, officiating. The procession will leave the home at 10:30 a. m.
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