by Lesa Marie Kentner
On April 24, 2022, the man that God set aside for me went to heaven just four days before his 65th birthday and on his only brother's birthday. Now, a year later, I was asked to write a tribute about him. But how do you do that? There are just not enough words to compile towards one so special to me. There are yet enough words to hopefully convey just how special he was.
Billy, Big Bill, Willy Burger, the love of my life whom I was granted over 32 years of marriage. Over half my life was spent with him. I literally grew up with him and so wanted to grow old with him. Billy pursued me. I was a young single mom and had very little interest in Billy as a husband. He wanted to be a dad as well. Once again, I had no interest. Billy was extremely confident that he would swoon my heart. Well, as you can obviously tell, he did exactly that. Billy swooned me and swept me off my feet. He stepped into the role of husband and dad and it looked really good on him. He loved his new family with deep affection. He longed to be a better person each day.
Billy by Beach Buddy and greatest love.
One of our MANY trips we took together. We made sure to celebrate us every year on or near our anniversary.
Billy was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. He was the oldest of five children. His father had abandoned the family, and after a few attempts on Billy's end to seek his dad out, he gave up on having an earthy dad. He wanted a relationship with his dad until it was abundantly clear that his dad did not want to reciprocate. Billy didn't let the exit of his dad stop him from being a good son to his mom. He was a hard worker and would give her a lot of his paycheck without hesitation. Billy adored his mom and wanted to help her out and his younger siblings as well financially.
Billy definitely had a season of testimony building along the way as several of us, including myself, have had. Billy and I were blessed to truly experience the Joy of the Lord together. Billy had a servant heart and served his family first. He knew the sting of abandonment and could never imagine doing that to his family that he knew God had brought together. Billy put his family before himself. He coached our sons in soccer and basketball. For several years along with me, we were soccer liaisons for the city of Norfolk, VA and our son’s school. He went on some scout trips with our oldest sons and was involved in Royal Rangers with our youngest son.
We served side by side at our long-time home church, Rock Church, in Franklin, VA. Serving was our heart, and side by side was even better. Billy worked four ten-hour days and had Fridays off. He would go to the Rock Church School on Friday and clean the school and its common areas. An act of service that was loved by the school staff.
Our favorite place to be together, Rock Church Franklin. God put us there.
Once our sons were older and we were empty nesters, he took up watching baseball along my side. He didn't like baseball, but he loved me and learned all about baseball. He became a Red Sox’s fan because I'm a Red Sox’s fan. We were blessed to go to many Sox games. Our favorite games were at Fenway Park. Our love for New England deepened with every trip we took there. Billy used to bring me flowers every Thursday. I didn't want him spending all that money every week, and we made a deal that he would get them from the grocery store. So, every Thursday, he walked in the back door with a bunch of flowers. Often in the spring, they'd be wild flowers from the roadside. I miss my Thursday flowers, but mostly I miss his grin as he'd deliver them to me.
This was our last anniversary together September 23, 2021. 32 years together. We went to New England and also took in a Red Sox game vs Yankees at Fenway Park.
We loved Sunday walks through downtown Franklin, VA.
When Billy became unexpectedly ill on October 7, 2021, and scans revealed the most shocking news of our marriage, I was so incredibly broken. I begged Jesus to please heal him. I didn't want to do life without Billy. I cried the same cry to Billy. He comforted me and assured me he'd be healed. He never gave up hope and would continue to comfort me. I came to realize I had to be a comforter to Billy. I would tell him that no matter what, he had a beautiful future. He'd agree and still remain hopeful that he'd be healed and we'd grow old together. Billy did get healed. He is in heaven, made completely new and living his best life ever with the one true Father that he has ever known.
Thank you, Jesus, for the life you gave me with Billy.
This is very raw. One of our last photos together. Just a day or so before Billy went to heaven. He was a fighter, and I thank God for that.
I love you, Billy, a bushel and peck, I love you forever and a day, and I love you more.