Bessie Nell (Wilson-Smith) Foley was born on February 23, 1936 to the union of Prentice “Garrett” Wilson and Estella Weathers-Wilson, in Trigg County, Kentucky. She was the 13th of 14 children. She received her wings on May 28, 2021.
Bessie moved to Dayton, Ohio in the 1950’s. She was gainfully employed with Dayton Public Schools (Edison Elementary) working in Food Service. She then went to work at Rodger’s Pontiac, then to Kettering Medical Center and finally, with General Motors, until she retired.
After her arrival to Dayton, OH, she joined Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. She and four of her small children would walk to church. The church later caught on fire, so she and her children joined the original Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church on Nicholas Road.
She married Orville Foley in the early 1990’s. Following her husband, she later joined Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church. From there, they went to New Commandment Missionary Baptist Church. Finally, she decided she wanted to go back “home”, where it all began and they rejoined Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. They both really enjoyed travelling together. Bessie and Orville were both dedicated to God as they served in may capacities, within whatever church they belonged to.
Bessie knew NO strangers!!! She strongly believed in family unity and was very protective of her siblings, although she was the second youngest. She had an impeccable memory and a heart of gold. She had no problem disciplining ANY child (rather, hers or not) and would proudly tell the adults how she felt (and sometimes, with explicit words)! She would help anyone when needed…and even, when not needed. Bessie had a sense humor that was out of this world and she had the quick, sharp responses to go along with it (which would be funny and shocking sometimes to hear). She will definitely be truly missed. She had such a huge impact on so many people’s lives, near and far.
She is preceded in death by her parents and stepmother, 12 siblings, Son, Thomas Smith Jr., daughter, Melvenia Simms, 4 great grandchildren, 1 great-great grandchild and her husband, Orville Foley. She leaves to mourn her passing, her children, Miriam, Kerry, Kim (Louisville, KY), Tina, April, Kathy, Keith, Pamela (Dayton, OH) and her extended children, Stephen Blackshear, Laquita Jordan and Lorenzo Harper (Dayton, OH). Her sister, Mattie Dillard (Louisville, KY). 21 grandchildren, 54 great grandchildren, 39 great-great grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
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