Billie Sue Lanham

COLUMBIA — Billie Sue (Atkins) Lanham, nicknamed "the old crow" by her ex-husband, truly cared for each and every one of her grandchildren.

Donna Lanham, her daughter, remembered having pet crows growing up. That's how Ms. Lanham's nickname, "the old crow," was established. They had their last pet crow, Pete, when Donna was 8 or 9 years old.

Ms. Lanham, of Columbia, died Thursday, March 24, 2011. She was 84.

She was born Dec. 6, 1926, in Boone County, to Walter Joseph and Virginia Pauley Atkins.

She married Joe Leland Lanham on Oct. 26, 1947. They were later divorced.

Valerie Call, her granddaughter, lived with Ms. Lanham during her senior year of high school as well as other times throughout her life.

Call grew up in the Rock Bridge High School district but transferred to Hickman High School because her grandmother went there as a teenager. Billie Sue Lanham was in Hickman's first graduating class.

"She was one of the best grandmothers a grandchild could have," Connie Taylor, her daughter, said.

Ms. Lanham taught Call things a grandmother doesn't usually share with grandchildren such as how to win a fight and how to give a great pedicure.

"She was the only grandmother I ever knew that would stick out her tongue at you," Call said.

Ms. Lanham's house was the place the whole family wanted to be. Although she wouldn't let them actually move in, she let everyone stay in her living room or in spare rooms in the house. Call was the only one who was allowed to move in.

Danielle Serrell, her granddaughter, said one time she and her cousin had to sing Ms. Lanham a song to be allowed to stay the night.

She was the fabric that kept the family together, from opening her house to them to transferring information to them.

"There was telegraph, telephone or tell-a-Grandma," said Call. "You tell Grandma anything, the whole freaking family will know."

Ms. Lanham's colorful personality was a continual part of her life.

The family remembers her very fondly. "She would give you the shirt off her back," Donna said.

Ms. Lanham is survived by three children, Connie Taylor, Donna Lanham and Michael Lanham, all of Columbia; seven grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held at noon Monday at Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel, 1610 N. Garth Ave. Service will be held at 1 p.m. followed by the burial at Memorial Park Cemetery.