Skip to content
For WHOI personnel, vendors, and visitors: COVID-19 Guidelines

Billy Joe Guest

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death of retiree Billy Joe Guest of Eatonton, Ga., on December 9 after a long illness. He was 78.

A native of Jackson County, Ga., Bill was the son of the late Melvin Valco Guest Sr., and Leona Ferguson Guest.

Bill began working at WHOI as an ordinary seaman on the Research Vessel (R/V) Bear in 1960.  He also worked on the R/V Crawford and R/V Chain.  He left in 1961. A decorated military veteran serving in the United Sates Air Force from 1956 – 1958 and 1966 – 1971 as an aircraft maintenance specialist, Bill served two tours of duty in Vietnam. On his second tour, which he volunteered for in order to keep his younger brother from having to serve, he was severely injured in a rocket attack on Da Nang Air Base during the Tet Offensive and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries received in combat. After his military service, Bill worked at Kendell Printing Company in Falmouth, Mass., and later became the head of security for KMart and Sears in Hyannis, Mass. He came back to WHOI in 1998 as a security guard and held that position until his retirement in 2006.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Melvin Valco Guest Jr., and sister, Jean Crowther.

Survivors include his children, Brian Guest and Wendy Paine, both of Falmouth; partner, Barbara Ann Childs; brothers Larry Guest of Athens, Ga., and Jackson Wesley “J.W.” Guest of Watkinsville, Ga.; sisters, Sherry Ruff of Elberton, Ga., and Vickey Gregory of Eatonton, Ga.; four grandchildren, Lilly Paine, Rachael Paine, Michael Guest, and Brian Guest Jr., all of Falmouth.

A graveside service was held on December 14 at the Winterville Cemetery in Winterville, Ga., with Dr. Stewart Simms officiating.

Billy Joe Guest