Remembering Billy Ray Pesnell

March 20, 1934 — July 2, 2023

Funeral services celebrating the life of Billy Ray Pesnell, age 89, of Shreveport, Louisiana, will be held at 11:00 o’clock a.m. on Saturday, July 8, 2023, at Rose-Neath Funeral Home, 1815 Marshall Street, Shreveport, Louisiana, 71101, with Rev. Larry Emory, pastor of Longstraw Baptist Church, officiating. Interment will follow at the Longstraw Cemetery in Choudrant, Louisiana. Visitation will be held on Friday, July 7, 2023, from 5:00 o’clock p.m. until 7:00 o’clock p.m. at Rose-Neath Funeral Home.

Mr. Pesnell was born in Jackson Parish, Louisiana, to his parents, Van Gordon Pesnell and Maggie Oda Lee Youngblood Pesnell, on March 20, 1934, and passed away on July 2, 2023, at Christus Highland Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was a long-time member of First Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, and was a faithful friend and supporter of First Baptist Church School.

Mr. Pesnell attended Eastland Elementary School in Ruston, Louisiana, and went on to Ruston High School, where he was the valedictorian in 1952. He was very active in the Future Farmers of America and participated in a number of speaking contests and debates. He later attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he completed the ROTC program and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

After he graduated from LSU, he married Gloria Faye Fletcher and applied for a Root-Tilden scholarship to study law at New York University. He received that scholarship, attended New York University, and graduated in 3 years with his Juris Doctor degree.

He and Gloria then moved back to Louisiana, settling in Shreveport, and he took a job practicing law with Hargrove, Guyton, & Van Hook. He practiced law with Hargrove, Guyton, & Van Hook and its successors for almost 46 years. In 2004, he founded the Pesnell Law Firm, A P.L.C., where he continued to practice until his death on Sunday, July 2, 2023.

Mr. Pesnell was a conscientious, hard-working lawyer who was well-regarded by his clients and by the members of the bar. He was supported through most of his career by Debra Neal Ervin, his office manager, bookkeeper, paralegal, secretary, and friend. Ms. Ervin, who worked for him for more than 45 years, became a member of his family.


Mr. Pesnell was also a devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He and his wife, Gloria, were happily married for almost 63 years – – from August 16, 1958, until her death on April 13, 2021.

He loved his children and did everything he could to raise them properly. He doted, however, on his grandchildren and went to great lengths to develop and expand their hearts, their minds, and their horizons.

Mr. Pesnell was preceded in death by his parents, Van Gordon Pesnell and Maggie Oda Lee Youngblood Pesnell; his wife, Gloria Faye Fletcher Pesnell; his sisters, Glenda Mae Pesnell Burch and Sharon Genet Pesnell Hamlin; and his foster brother, Robert Lee Williams.

Left to cherish his memory are his children, John Whitney Pesnell and wife, Tedy; William Alan Pesnell and wife, Evelyn; James Gordon Pesnell; Douglas Wade Pesnell and wife Angela; and Susan Elizabeth Pesnell; his sister, Betty Sue Pesnell Ambrose and husband, Jack; his brother, Gordon Drew Pesnell and wife, Jean; and his brothers-in-law, John Gilland Burch and Bruce Arnold Hamlin. Also surviving Mr. Pesnell are his grandchildren, Shaelyn Cheyenne Schmidt, Sierra Caroline Pesnell, Sheridan Colleen Pesnell, William Marshall Pesnell, and Katelyn Elizabeth Pesnell, and his step-grandchildren, Kristina Louise Rushing, Jessie Pearl Perez, John Robert Perez, Gregory George Perez, Carl Ernest Perez, and Nellie Grace Perez.

Honoring Mr. Pesnell as pall bearers are his nephews and great-nephews, Christopher Drew Pesnell, David Bruce Hamlin, Jeremy Clay Hamlin, Matthew Gilland Burch, and William Bert Fletcher, and his step-grandson, Gregory George Perez.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorials may be made to First Baptist Church of Shreveport, 543 Ockley Drive, Shreveport, Louisiana, 71106; Longstraw Baptist Church, 1799 Styles Ranch Road, Choudrant, Louisiana, 71227; the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home, 7200 Desiard Street, Monroe, Louisiana, 71203; or the charity of the donor’s choice.