Ernest Gilliam, “Boot” as he was affectionately known by family and friends, was born on June 6, 1946 in West Point Ga.(New Harmony). He was the sixth of eight children born to Mr. Jim Gilliam Sr. and Bessie Hunter Gilliam. He professed a hope in Christ at an early age and was baptized at New Harmony CME Church, West Point Ga. After relocating to Indianapolis he united with Stewart Memorial CME Church where he served on the Steward Board.
Ernest, attended Union Elementary school in Cannonville, Ga. and Ethel W. Kight Elementary and High school, LaGrange Ga. and graduated in 1965. After graduation, he became the community barber. Ernest was not content with just being the community barber, he went on to pursued a career with West Point Pepperell manufacturing Co later renamed Stevens manufacturing Co.
Growing up in the 60s and in the rural south, Ernest , once again was not content he wanted a better life for himself. In 1966, he moved to Indianapolis, IN, and sought employment with the Shadeland Ave Chrysler Corp Electrical assembly plant as an assembly line worker, He was employed there until 1988. When the plant closed, he then had a choice to relocate to the Chrysler Foundry located on Tibbs Ave, or drive 56 miles one way to the Chrysler Transmission Plant in Kokomo, IN. Ernest and some of his co-workers chose to take turns and drive the 56 miles to the Kokomo plant. Due to having less seniority they had to take the midday or night shift, which caused a hardship on their families but through it all they weathered the storm until retirement. Ernest retired in 2004, after 38 years of service. During his tenure he received numerous honors for his employment.
After retirement Ernest fulfilled his passion to be a small business owner. He opened a restaurant known as, “Boot’s barbecue. After closing his business, he started a solo catering service cooking for many family reunions.
Ernest enjoyed sports especially football, he coached his sons football and baseball. He loved his “Colts” he was not able to watch the game played on December 27th but on Monday, December 28th he opened his eyes and asked who won the game.
Ernest loved going back home to West Point(New Harmony)to visit family and friends, while there, it was a chore getting him to leave for the trip back to Indianapolis, only because he enjoyed being the center of attention, saying “The Night is Still Young, Kick the Box Y’all”. Ernest was known for his colorful jokes and stories; he would entertain us for hours reminiscing about growing up in rural Ga., in both elementary and high school years. He especially loved teasing his oldest sister Jessie as well as other family members of things that never happened, as we all knew.
In the early hours of December 30, 2020 Ernest decided to (step out on us, as he would say), at the age of seventy-four years six months and twenty four days. Ernest was preceded in death by both his parents; one brother, Morris Gilliam(Daisy). With unconditional love, Ernest leaves to cherish his memories wife, Maxine, six sons; Reginald, Ryan, Bridget(aka Carlos), Ephraim, Ernest Jared(EJ)(Pauletta) and Jamichael. Four sisters and two brothers, Jessie Cumberlander, Ethel Gibson, Ernestine Gilliam-Sims(Marshel) Shirley Gilliam, Jim Gilliam Jr and Horace Gilliam(Theresa), twenty-one grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren, a special niece Sonja Cumberlander, a devoted friend and caretaker Felisca White; and a host of nieces nephews other relatives and numerous friends.