THE MOTTLEY CREW REVIEW
www.MottleyLawFirm.com | (804) 823-2011
A B I RTHDAY FOR THE AGES
February is a big birthday month in our family. It always has been, and none is bigger than Granddaddy’s. Granddaddy, Cecil Burley, was born in February 1926 in Maidens, Virginia, making him 93 years old this year. Granddaddy’s life has been an amazing journey filled with adventure, love, and tragedy. He has experienced it all and is a walking well of wisdom for his children, grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren. His life started off rough. Granddaddy’s mother passed away from tuberculosis when he was 1, leaving him and his two older sisters, 3 and 5, with their father. His father worked as a chicken farmer to support the children. But then he, too, contracted tuberculosis and died, leaving three orphans behind.
those were some tough years, “but we survived” with the help of family.
Eventually, things got better. Granddaddy met the grandmother I knew, Lilo. They married and added three more children to the family. I have a lot of fond memories of the family from back then. The entire clan would vacation every summer on Hatteras, a place Granddaddy began taking the family in his Airstream camper in the early 1960s. Some of my best memories of those trips are of my grandparents and my father surf fishing all day and of the card games over fresh fish every night. Now the memories are there, but a lot has changed. Lilo passed in 2013. One of their children, aunt Bridget passed away shortly thereafter. We lost Dad in 1997. And all the cousins have gotten married and had kids of their own. But Granddaddy remains. I asked him recently about his perspective on life. For him, the key to a life of abundance is family. “You need family. I don’t know what I’d do without my supportive family.” -Kevin W. Mottley
When Granddaddy was 16, he left school and went to work at the Defense General Supply Center. As he explains it, “World War II was going on and I felt, if I was going to get drafted, to heck with it, I’ll just go to work.” That’s what he did, and that’s where he met my grandmother, Mammie Hicks from Appomattox. They soon got married and three months later, when he turned 18, Granddaddy was drafted into the Navy. Pretty soon, he was on a boat to the South Pacific, where he worked to re-supply Allied ships during the war. When he got home, Mamie and Granddaddy had my mom, and times were good. Granddaddy got a job working at Reynolds Metals on Byrd Street in downtown Richmond, working his way up to shift foreman. But then, in 1957, tragedy struck again. Mamie was killed in an accident leaving Granddaddy with my mom, 10, and her younger sister, 1. Granddaddy says
But then came love. Two Richmond families stepped in — the Tucks and the Gills. The Tucks took Granddaddy and one of his sisters in. The other sister went with another relative. Mr. Tuck and Mr. Gill were both carpenters, and the two families lived in a frame house they built together on Fairfax Avenue in Manchester. Granddaddy describes growing up in south Richmond with a smile. “It was a wonderful community. Everybody knew everybody. If I did something wrong, my parents knew it before I got home. Everyone looked out for each other.” He recalls going to movies all day for 25 cents at the Venus and the Ponton theaters on Hull Street and skipping school to go skinny dipping on Mayo Island in the James River with all the other children who were skipping. He laughs as he recalls the passenger trains coming over the river and all the kids jumping in the James so they wouldn’t be seen.
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