Next, Bill's niece, Beth Wansley rendered a beautiful version of one of Bill's standard solos "The Love of God." The Holy Spirit ushered in a reverence and awe in the congregation as we were spellbound by memories of Bill himself singing the sweet refrain. The theme of the song had been so well represented by Bill's life and testimony.
Next, Bill's nephew, Matt Shirley spoke of his Uncle Bill's influence in his life. Bill was a great story teller and he loved a good story. Let me assure the readers that Matt did his uncle a well deserved tribute. Weaving an analogy of life's experience akin to a story that the script doesn't quite work out as anticipated--Matt skillfully and with classic Shirley humor drew a masterful description of Bill's script in life. In my many years of ministry I've never heard John 14 so eloquently woven into a funeral message. It was a fascinating presentation given with heartfelt love and admiration.
The interment was conducted by Brian James, V.P of Emmanuel College, and also a nephew to Bill. Again, the love and admiration for Bill shone through. The life of Bill Shirley impacted generations of young people on campuses across America. We were all enriched by the presence and humor of a godly man who forever changed our lives.
Although far from an exhaustive list, here is a sampling of the luminaries in attendance for the service: Drs. Mr and Mrs. Jerry Boone, Jerry and Karen Thompson, Dr. Don and Sue Brady, Coach Jim Ganey, Dr. and Mrs. Ron White, Dr. Frank Mann, Bishop Tim Lamb, Pastor Bill Jones, Betty Jo Bailey, Rachel H. Sorrow, Harrell and Linda Queen, Mrs. Nell Hartsfield (widow of the late Dr. Kirk Hartsfield), Wayne and Connie Brady, Pastor Harrison and Wanda Lampley, Vernon Sorrels, Jack Puckett, Dr Dan and Gwen Woods and many, many more.
Dan Woods pastors Culbreth Memorial Church in Falcon, NC. He attributes his spiritual turnaround at Emmanuel due in part to Bill Shirley.