Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Ralls Jennings

Ralls Jennings passed away June 27 surrounded by family after a long and full life. He was 89 years old and had been married to his wife, Billie Jean Burns Jennings, for 69 of those years. Ralls was the father of 3 children, Luci Jennings, Russ Jennings (Linda), and Don Jennings (deceased). His grandchildren are Julie King, Evan Webb, Jeanna Edgerton, Belle Jennings, Lucas Jennings, Remy Jennings, Jesse Jennings, Matthew Jennings, and Holly Jennings.

A unique person who led an interesting life, the focus of Ralls’ life was always his love of Billie. Together, they raised a family, started a business, and saw a lot of the world. While Ralls served stateside in the U.S. Air Force during the last years of the Korean war, they began their family with the birth of Luci. Despite having a young family, Ralls worked part time and, with help from the GI Bill, earned a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Alabama to become the first college graduate in his family. 2 sons were added to the family as he worked several jobs throughout the southeast before the family settled in Trion in 1965 when Ralls became Plant Engineer at Riegel Textile.

In 1972, Ralls and Billie started J Bar Corporation. J Bar became a true family business as all their children worked there and most of the grandchildren were kept there as babies and toddlers by their grandmother, Billie, as she and their parents worked. Today it is being run by the third generation of the family and their children are growing up in the office as their parents and grandmother, Luci, work.

A self-taught artist, Ralls began painting in his early 30’s and continued into his 80’s. He produced over 200 paintings, many of which are proudly displayed in the homes of his children and grandchildren. You can see a catalog of his work at

Ralls and Billie loved to travel and see other cultures. Beginning in the late 60’s when they took the family across Mexico in a pickup truck, they traveled abroad regularly and lived in Mexico for a few years when they were in their 60’s. Business was often the reason for travel as they visited companies in Italy, Denmark, Spain, and China that J Bar traded with. Travel and business led Ralls to study foreign languages and when needed, he could do business or order dinner in Spanish, Italian, and French.

After returning from their Mexico phase, they moved to Midtown Atlanta, where they owned several properties that they rented to young professionals and grad students. Although he never really retired, Ralls concentrated a lot of his painting while in Midtown. Always very active, both Ralls and Billie enjoyed walking the streets of Atlanta, a couple in their 70’s amid all the bustle of the young in the city.

The last few years, Ralls showed his devotion to Billie after the progression of her dementia. The man who had seldom cooked and never cleaned, took over the entire running of their lives from shopping to cooking and cleaning and taking complete care of her physical needs by himself. Only in the last 2 years did they move back to Trion to be near family. On his last day, just seeing Billie seemed to ease his suffering and bring calmness to his mind.

The family will have a private gathering to celebrate the life of their patriarch. Thanks to our friend, Elvia Berry, for her care and support of Ralls and Billie and her friendship to the entire family.

Thanks to Tracey Rogers and the other nurses at Heyman Hospice. We appreciate the care and support he was given by the staff in assisted living at The Spires at Berry College.

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