James Otis GILLEY Jr. NOVEMBER 10, 1934 – DECEMBER 29, 2020
Jim was born in Smithville, Tennessee November 10, 1934. He grew up in Nashville, playing “war” and rolling tires down hills with his brother Roy and other neighborhood kids. He told lots of stories of his teachers in school and was seemingly not a stranger to their disciplining techniques.
Jim attended Isaac Litton High School where his teachers encouraged him to quit school and make it big in country music. He was a talented artist, playing guitar, harmonica, and piano all by ear. He played the Honky Tonk scene with musicians who would become Opry and country music legends. He quit music when God called him into ministry. He graduated from Belmont University and Trinity College of the Bible with a degree in theology, then served at Madison Heights Baptist Church as their music minister. He became an insurance salesman, which he continued for 60+ years. A prolific writer, Jim authored or co-authored with his brother several books and booklets about the Bible and Israel, including Beyond His Passion: The Whole Story of Jesus Christ’s Death and Resurrection and Jerusalem’s Jubilee. He ran the In the Word Today ministry through his website, answering questions about Jesus and encouraging others to study the Word. His grandchildren’s favorite writing of his, though, was always the personalized poems they received in homemade cards for every holiday and occasion. When he died, he was a longtime member of Tulip Grove Baptist Church where he served faithfully in the choir, on the evangelism team, as a Sunday School teacher, and in other ministries for many years. One of his favorite things to do was stroll around church events “pickin’ and grinnin’,” playing guitar and harmonica for kids and adults alike. A big kid himself, Jim loved playing with his grandchildren. He had nicknamed himself “Silly Hillbilly Gilley” and could often be found making faces to kids or adults to make them laugh—especially in moments when laughter was not encouraged. His favorite gifts well into his eighties were toys. He enjoyed showing them off to all the kids who would come over. Everyone knew him as “DaddyJim,” though for a few years he donned the name “Santa Claus” at Christmas, playing the role at church and school functions for his grandkids. Jim also loved spoiling his grandchildren with treats and, more importantly, sweets. His family all knows that a “DaddyJim” portion of ice cream is at least three well-packed scoops. He usually asked for dessert to be served before the rest of the family finished eating their meal. True to the end, one of the last requests was for ice cream. He will be remembered for his creativity, his ministry, his childlike spirit, and his love for his family. Jim is survived by his wife of 38 years, Jeanette L. Gilley; his children, Georgie Hyndman (Ron), David Gilley, and Jennifer Henderson (Brian); his grandchildren, Elizabeth Hyndman, Abigail Hyndman, Hannah Shah, Aaron Neely, and Jacob Neely; his great-grandchild, Samuel Farris; his sister-in-law Jean Gilley; his niece, Patricia Bain (Doug); his great niece, Diana Bain, and his great-great niece, Annaleah Bain. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, James “Bill” O. Gilley, Sr. and Ida Bell Gilley and his brother, Roy Gilley.
Funeral services will be held 2 pm Sunday at Hermitage Funeral Home with Bro Phil Lundy officiating. Interment to follow at Hermitage Memorial Gardens. Visitation Sunday from 12 pm till time of service. Services will also be available for viewing online at Hermitage Funeral Home Facebook page.