OBITUARY: William Franklin Dillon


William Franklin Dillon was born on May 26, 1937, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to James Russell Dillon and Mary (Minor) Dillon. He was known as “Frank” during his growing-up years in Murfreesboro. His mother died when he was only four or five years of age, and his father’s life became absorbed in alcoholic drink. Consequently, Frank experienced a hardscrabble childhood, although one filled with Tom-Sawyer/Huckleberry-Finn adventure.

In the mid-1950s, Frank and his cousin Charlie hitchhiked away from Murfreesboro, and ended up in Toledo, Ohio, where Frank soon met the love of his life, Debbie. They married and settled down in Toledo, the parents of four children. As a young adult, Frank became known as Bill, the abbreviation of his first name rather than his middle name.

In 1962, Bill and Debbie’s lives were dramatically changed for the better when they both became Christians. In the case of Bill, it caused him to become a serious student of the Bible, and within seven years of Bill becoming a Christian, he believed that God was calling him to be a preacher of the Gospel. All of this led to Bill and Debbie and their children moving to the Chattanooga, Tennessee area in 1970, so that Bill could attend the Bible School Division of Tennessee Temple University.

Even while attending Bible School in Chattanooga, Bill was very active in street preaching and beginning a mission-size church in Cleveland, Tennessee, known as Echoes of Mercy Baptist Church.

Upon graduation from Tennessee Temple University’s Bible School Division in 1981, Bill and Debbie moved to Smyrna, Tennessee, where they began Bible Way Baptist Church in 1981 in their home on Old Nashville Highway. Bill pastored Bible Way Baptist Church for 24 years, until 2005.

He became known to members of the congregation and to the community as “Preacher Dillon”, or simply “Preacher.” During the time of his pastorate, the church grew in membership, and he was able to utilize his carpenter skills to build a church building on twelve acres of property on Seminary Road, in Smyrna.

In 2005, Bible Way Baptist Church merged with Rutherford County Baptist Church, and that church continues to dynamically grow and to preach the Gospel to the present time.

From 2006 until 2014, Preacher Dillon remained active in ministry by pastoring Rocky Ford Road Baptist Church. However, Preacher’s wife Debbie’s declining health, caused by Alzheimer’s Disease, compelled him to retire from active pastoring in January 2014, in order to devote himself to caring for his wife, who had loyally and energetically co-labored with Preacher throughout his Christian ministry. Preacher faithfully and tenderly cared for Debbie until she passed away in their home in May 2018.

Preacher Bill Dillon was a faithful member and supporter of the ministry of Rutherford County Baptist Church from 2018 until his death on Saturday evening, November 25, 2023.

Preacher Dillon was preceded in death by his parents, James Russell and Mary Ann Dillon, and his three brothers, James, Billy and Hubert Dillon, as well as his loving wife, Debbie.

He is survived by his four children, Cyndi (Ron) Brown, Janet (Tom) Hall, Mike Dillon, Kathy Repass, nine grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great-grandchild.

Preacher Dillon’s funeral service will be conducted on this Thursday, November 30, 2023, at 1:00 p.m., at Rutherford County Baptist Church, 5742 Seminary Road, Smyrna, Tennessee. The public is invited to attend. Visitation will precede the funeral service on the same date, and will also be conducted at Rutherford County Baptist Church, from 10:00 a.m., until 12:45 p.m., to which the public is also invited.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the building fund of Rutherford County Baptist Church.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Jennings and Ayers Funeral Home, 820 South Church Street, Murfreesboro, TN. 37130. 615-893-2422.


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