To Billy Joe
By Jerry Grammar
I find it ironic that the song came out a few years after the death of
a dear friend who bore an almost identical name. Billy Joe McMurray would
have graduated with the Class Of 1960 except for one wrong choice.
Dora was in the state basketball tournaments being held at the Auditorium
in Birmingham now known as Boutwell Auditorium. Billy Joe played a great
game that night and was asked to ride back in a private car by some friends.
He could have taken the team bus with the rest of the players but chose
to ride with his friends. He would never play basketball again. As the
car topped the hill in Forestdale it was involved in a wreck, throwing
him from the car. His body slid several hundred feet. Billy Joe lay in
UAB for several months in a coma. It was uncertain if he would ever come
out of the coma, but he did only to smile, speak a few words and slip
No one had ever seen a funeral service like his. Being loved by young and old alike
the services was attended by hundreds and hundreds of loving, mournful friends.
I had known Billy Joe my entire life. We visited each others homes, attended
the Sumiton Church of God together. Went from Elementary through Jr High
in Sumiton on to Dora High together. He drove a beautiful red and white
Dora lost a great athlete and everyone lost a dear friend. When I hear “Ode
TO Billy Joe” to this day, the first thing that comes to mind is not
Billy Joe McAllister, but Billy Joe McMurray.