Bearden is known as “Mr. Recreation” to many people, due to the influence and impact he has had on the Calhoun Recreation Department.
“With the years he spent, the people he helped and the dedication he has to this city, he has earned this,” Dianne Bearden Kirby said, who is the younger sister of Billy Bearden.
Bearden was employed at the Calhoun Recreation Department from November 20, 1962 until he retired on December 31, 1992.
Kirby said Bearden in the reason the Calhoun Recreation Department is the way it is today.
“He started in what was the size of the closet and built the recreation up to what it is today,” Kirby said. “He brought in all aspects of athletics.”
Mayor Jimmy Palmer said he always remembers Bearden telling him, “recreation is for everyone.”
Bearden is also known for the many accomplishments he has had in life.
He played baseball for five years with the Milwaukee Crackers Organization, was a two time All-American in softball, played on seven regional champion teams and was named MVP in seven state tournaments and five regional tournaments.
As a pitcher Bearden won more than 600 games, pitched three perfect games and hit 350 home runs.
He remained an active player from 1950 through 1979, and played on champion teams from five states including: Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Virginia. He was named to the Georgia ASA Hall of Fame in 1988.
Bearden was employed by Canton, N.C. recreation department for four years and the recreation departments at Fox Hill, Va. and Clearwater, Fla.
He was also the head of recreation activities for the local VFW post, before joining the Calhoun Recreation Department.
Bearden was born and raised in Gordon County and attended Calhoun and Belwood schools, and he decided to return and make this his home again.
“He wanted to come back and give to the community where he grew up.” Kirby said. “He is very family oriented, and he has helped a lot of people.”
Kirby said Bearden has taken a lot of kids headed in the wrong direction under his wing and turned them into productive members of this city and county. She said there are a lot of connections to Bearden in this town.
The dedication of the recreation building comes at a rough time for the Bearden family, because Billy Bearden has been diagnosed with melanoma, and according to Kirby the cancer has metastasized in both of his lungs. Bearden has been going through treatment for the melanoma for the past three or four months.
Kirby said you would never know it though because he doesn’t complain and he still fishes and plays golf, which according to her, are two things he really loves to do.
"I had the best job in the country and I loved it," said Billy. "I appreciate all of this."