Billy E. Gardenhight, Sr. 87, passed away Friday, November 19, 2021.
Billy was a native of Asheville and a son of the late Edward Eugene Gardenhight and Fannie Williams Gardenhight.
He attended the Asheville public schools and was a graduate of the historic Stephens-Lee High School, Class of 1954. At Stephens-Lee, Billy was captain of the football and basketball teams. He was inducted into the school's first sports Hall of Fame. He attended Shaw University. Billy was an avid golfer. After a federal racial discrimination suit against Buncombe County, Billy was hired as Assistant Professional at Asheville Municipal Golf Course. He was later employed as Youth Director of the Afro-American Youth Society. Billy held several positions with the Opportunity Corporation of Buncombe-Madison Counties as Youth Director, Weatherization Coordinator and Transportation Supervisor. He was a member of Brooklyn Mission FBH Church. Billy and his wife, Martha were foster parents for 32 years with the Eliada Foster Care program. In 2013, Billy was recognized at the 6th Bi-Annual Ceremony as an Asheville Living Treasure.
Billy was a member and former president of the Skyview Golf Association. He served as tournament director for the Skyview Open, a major recognized tournament for Black Golfers during segregation and beyond. The tournament was won several times by Lee Elder, the first African American to play in the Masters Golf Tournament, Augusta, GA. Billy was a member of several golf associations throughout the Southeast. He won many amateur tournaments and was inducted into the National Black Golf Hall of Fame in 1994.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by sons, Billy Jr. and Eric.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Martha Koon Gardenhight; sons, Lee Shepherd (Gail) and Roderick Shepherd; foster-son, Nicholas Freeman; several grandchildren; sister, Marcia Mack; several nieces and nephews, including special niece, Ava Roberts; other relatives and friends.
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