William “Billy” Avant, 71, of Norfolk passed away on September 30, 2021. Bill was born on March 28, 1950, son of the late Walker L. Avant and Luca (Avant) Morgan. He was predeceased by his sister, Sandra, and her husband, Donald McElhenie, who was a mentor, friend and a second father to Billy. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Cindy, sons Billy and Tommy (Kim), brother Richard (Dickie) Avant, and sister, Sue Ann (Coughenour) Shelton. He was proud grandfather to Andrew, Michael, Seth and Jake and great grandfather to Audrey and Winston. Also left to cherish his memory are many, many nieces and nephews.
Billy served in the Norfolk Fire Department for 30 years. He loved helping his neighbors, carrying on conversations about the fire department, life in general and being with his dogs. A special thanks to the nurses who cared for Billy in the ICU unit at Sentara Norfolk General where he spent his final days. Arrangement details are forthcoming.
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To The Avant Family, I am so sorry for your Loss.
Cynthia I was so shocked to see that Bill had passed. I enjoyed the funny stories you would tell me about Bill when we worked together. I know he loved his job at the Fire Department and his Dogs.
God Bless you and your family, my heart and prayers are with you.
One of the many stories Billy told me was one about an elderly neighbor, Mrs Diaz who had locked herself out of her house. She asked Billy if he had a fireman’s key to open the door. Billy’s reply was “yes m’am, it’s called an axe”.
In 1970 I was 14 years old and my father left. Billy Avant was a Norfolk firefighter and at that time they worked 24 hours on and 24 hours off. On Billy’s days off he would pick me up to help him do side jobs he had lined up or to just drive around in his 1965 Ford pick-up. At lunchtime we would go to his house on Dune St where Cindy would serve us sandwiches and Pepsi (Billy loved Pepsi and to this day so do I). Later he would take me home and in 24 hours we would do it all over again.
The reasons Billy took a pimply faced teenager under his wing and spent his days off with him only he could say. What I can say is those days meant the world to me and I am forever grateful to Bill and Cindy for their efforts on my behalf.
One thing I never told anyone, including Billy, is that I kept a calendar in my room marked with Billy’s days off. He never let me down, then or ever.
I worked with Billy off and on at different stations throughout my career and I couldn’t help but like him. I think we had similar outlooks on life, however, he was a little more serious minded. At times like this, when a friend passes, we experience sorrow that we didn’t spend more time together. I remember one time, driving to a class at TCC he was telling me a story and at a crucial part of the story, he lowered his voice to a whisper like it was some deep, dark secret and I said “Billy, what are you whispering for, we’re the only ones in the truck”, we pretty much laughed all the way to class after that. He’ll be missed by many.