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Willena Jay (Billie) Schoene Kean Elmore was born Dec. 20, 1920 in Blacksburg to Rena Bella Yankey Schoene and William Jay Schoene. She grew up in Blacksburg and returned there in her retirement years.
She was a graduate of North Carolina University at Greensboro and one of her first jobs was as a dietician at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She earned a Master’s Degree from Virginia Tech. She did military service in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II as a cryptographer ending her service as a sergeant and met her first husband, Water Kean, at that time. She and Walter moved to FL and he died there. She had begun a teaching career and after losing her second husband, James Elmore, she decided to see the world by teaching for the Department of Defense in Korea, Philippines, Iceland, Turkey, and Cuba. After retiring from the Defense Dept., she taught English as a second language in China. She educated three young men whom she met in her years abroad. Two were from China, one has returned there and the other runs a successful business here. She called them her Chinese and Korean sons.
Willena was a life-long, devoted member of the Methodist Church and was a member of Main Street United Methodist Church in Bedford.
She is survived by a life-long friend, Molly Robeson of Blacksburg, her Chinese “son” Xiu Zhang and his wife Lu and his son Bill and his wife of Germantown, MD. She is also survived by her nephew, Tom Richardson and his wife, Jeanette of Bedford; a niece, Lee Sendelbeck of Palo Alto, Ca; nephews, Jimmy and Kathy Moore of Falmouth, CA and Charles and Faye Moore of Bridgewater, and a niece Mary and John Newman, Clearwater FL; a niece. Katura Schoene of Oakland CA; a nephew, William and Mary Lou Schoene, Santa Monica, CA.
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 12 in the lodge room at the Elks National Home in Bedford.
Arrangments by Burch-Messier Funeral Home.