Gilliam selected as grand marshall

Published 3:59 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

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Bonnie Reinhardt Gilliam was selected as the 2021 Keysville Christmas Parade Grand Marshall.

Gilliam, a lifelong resident of Keysville began singing at an early age and recalls her singing debut at age 9 when she sang for the Ruritan Dinner in the cafeteria of Randolph-Henry HS.

She went on to sing through the years, sometimes performing with bands in several states, recording an album with her family, and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry stage alongside Senator Robert C. Byrd, Senate Majority Leader at the time, as he played his fiddle.

She was part of the bluegrass group “Harvest” and also recorded an album with that group, but she says the best singing she ever did was with her family.

In 2008 Gilliam’s granddaughter Lauren was diagnosed with leukemia.

This launched a renewed effort on her part to raise money to fight cancer, and she has spent the last 13 years volunteering for Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.

The family team, called “Lauren’s Butterflies”, has raised well over $100,000 since 2008.

She has been a leader in the event each year and worked hard to make the Survivor Celebration a memorable event for Charlotte County’s cancer survivors.

Going back to school at age 40, Gilliam went on to receive a bachelor’s and a master’s degree as an adult. “You are never too old to go to college if you really want to,” Gilliam said.

After years of working in Education at Southside Community College, Hampden-Sydney College, and Old Dominion University, Gilliam joined the partnership which opened The Estes Center in Chase City, offering SVCC classes in that location.

Retiring from full-time work five years ago, she continues to be active on the Board of Chase City Community Services and works part-time at the Estes Center. Much of her time is spent baking cakes, a fundraiser for Relay for Life, and spending time with family.

Gilliam is married to E. E. “Spider” Gilliam, and they have spent 59 years as Keysville residents, raising their two daughters, Cheryl and Julie, and welcoming grandchildren Daniel, Casey, Lauren and Caroline to their family.

Gilliam is the daughter of the late Jessie and Iva Reinhardt, and 1962 graduate of Randolph-Henry High School.