ORANGE — Ava Joy Thorn Gilliam, 85, of Orange passed away April 14, 2013. Joy was born in Joaquin, Texas on January 20, 1928. She moved to Orange and met her husband James D. Gilliam during the time she worked as a beautician. After their wedding in 1947 she managed the family owned convenience stores. She was a faithful member of First United Methodist Church of Orange for over 66 years. During that time, she was active in the Fidelis Women’s Sunday School class and served on the Alter Guild. She loved to play bridge and enjoyed the many groups that she played with over the years. She loved to travel and spend time with her family. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, aunt and friend who will be missed dearly.
Her parents and her husband, James D. Gilliam, former mayor of Orange, and her brother Herbert Thorn, preceded her in death. She is survived by her daughter Nancy Gilliam Byers and son-in-law Cecil Byers, of Orange, TX and son, Jimmy Gilliam, and wife Tracey Gilliam of Beaumont, TX; her grandsons Christopher Byers of Houston, TX, Dalton and Zach Gilliam of Beaumont, TX; and her granddaughter Sarah Byers of Houston, TX. Visitation will be Wednesday, April 17, 2013 from 5 until 7PM at Claybar Funeral Home. A funeral service will be Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 11AM, at First United Methodist Church in Orange, with the Reverend John Warren officiating. Burial will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens. Pallbearers will be Stephen Lee, Oliver Seastrunk, Chris Byers, Mark Turpin, Larry Smith and Herb Thorn. Honorary pallbearers are Henry Seals, Johnny Hart, Frank Shuman, and Charles Gonzalez. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to First United Methodist Church of Orange.