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Alice Louise Hayley Gilliam

Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina, USA
Death 1 Nov 2012 (aged 93)
Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 100497820 · View Source
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Alice Louise (Hayley) Gilliam left a legacy of strength, grace, and wisdom when she passed away at Cokesbury Village on November 1, 2012, surrounded by family and friends.

Known as Louise, she was the youngest girl of seven children. She was born on October 11, 1919, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Louise spent each summer in Baltimore with her sister, Mercedes. The summer after her first year of college, Louise met Jim Gilliam at a garden party in Baltimore County. "I went out there and I saw this beautiful, beautiful young lady, and I said I've got to meet her," Jim says. "And that's what I did." They were both 16.

Louise finished high school and later attended Winston-Salem Teachers College, where she earned a bachelor's degree in education. After some time, Louise decided to move to Baltimore to be closer to her sister and began working with a child welfare agency. She found that her calling was to help protect the rights of those who could not protect themselves and embarked upon a career in social work.
Jim and Louise married in 1944. The Gilliams had two children, Jim Jr. and Patti. While Patti was still a baby, Louise commuted two days each week to Howard University in Washington, D.C. to earn her master's degree in social work. Jim says he quickly learned to wash and bleach diapers to ensure that his wife could achieve her dream.

Louise's career in social work advanced quickly, and she became head of the foster care program in the Maryland Department of Social Welfare. In 1965, the Gilliams moved to Wilmington, where they continued their life of public service — Jim as a noted leader in neighborhood and community development, and Louise as the Executive Director of the Department of Social Work in Cecil County, Maryland.

After Louise retired, she continued to pursue her passion for protecting those who could not protect themselves. This calling, which was based in her strong Christian faith, led her to volunteer with many organizations, including the YWCA, Children and Families First, and Sojourners' Place, among others. She was also an elder at First and Central Presbyterian Church and very active with her church family.

Louise was extremely intuitive, and she often gave wise counsel to others, particularly if their intuition was leading them astray. "When you were called to a 'meeting' with Miss Louise, you knew it was serious," recalls her daughter Patti.

Louise served innumerable organizations and causes as the "backstop" to her husband's community activities. During the infamous Wilmington riots in 1968, Jim often brought leaders from warring factions into their home to work through the conflict. Louise would help prepare Jim for the discussions, make a meal for the participants, and counsel Jim afterward about next steps.

Family friend Tony Allen notes, "While Jim remains the voice of the family, Louise has always been the rock, heart and conscience."

Louise chose a life of service to others, but was most proud that she and Jim raised equally caring children, both of whom followed in their footsteps and became active members of the community in their own right – Patti as a doctor and university professor, and Jim Jr. as an attorney and prominent figure in Delaware law, politics, banking and education.

Louise was predeceased by her parents, six brothers and sisters, and her son Jim Jr.

Left to cherish the memory of Louise's beautiful life are her husband Jim Sr., daughter Patrice Gilliam-Johnson, and grandson Micah Johnson, all of Wilmington; granddaughters Alexis Gilliam-Lerner and Leslie Gilliam, both of Los Angeles; and great-grandchildren Charlie, Asher and Julian, also of Los Angeles. She also leaves a number of nieces and nephews and countless friends who loved her like family.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Louise's memory be sent to the Gilliam Charitable Trust at the Delaware Community Foundation, 100 W. 10th Street, Suite 115, P.O. Box 1636, Wilmington, DE 19899.

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  • Created by: Max
  • Added: 10 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100497820
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Alice Louise Hayley Gilliam (11 Oct 1919–1 Nov 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100497820, ; Maintained by Max (contributor 47012705) Unknown.