The Obit For Bill Flurry

Bill Flurry, 75, gave gospel singers a start at supper club

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 05/26/08

The Joyful Noise Christian supper club in East Point launched gospel singers and featured established acts all served up with a 30-foot buffet bar and no alcohol. Owner Bill Flurry closed the doors in 1994 after a 20-year run for the club many predicted would never succeed.

"People told us it would never work if we did not sell alcohol, that that's where the profit is. Later, they said they were glad we didn't listen to them," said Mr. Flurry's wife, Marilyn Flurry of Cumming. "Christian people just came together, and groups loved to perform there."

"I got started there. It opened many doors for me," said Dove Award-winning gospel singer Babbie Mason of Bowdon.

For the popular New Year's Eve at Joyful Noise, reservations had to be made a year in advance for a night of supper, gospel performances, a moment of devotional prayer, then balloons and horns and jubilation at midnight followed by a buffet breakfast.

"You couldn't find any better place for the best gospel music and fellowship," said David Chamblee of Suwanee, an original stockholder in the club.

The memorial service for Thomas B. "Bill" Flurry, 75, of Cumming is at 3 p.m. Sunday at First Redeemer Church. He died of stomach cancer May 19 at Embracing Hospice. The body was cremated. McDonald and Son Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

It appeared that Mr. Flurry would have a career in baseball when he signed a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and played in the minor leagues. After a stint in the military playing baseball for the Army, he decided on a business career and sold insurance in Birmingham, his wife said.

That made him financially comfortable but spiritually discontented. He felt the Lord spoke and told him to open a Christian night club, Mrs. Flurry said.

"We didn't have anything to pattern it after, and knew we needed a larger city to try it," she said. Mr. Flurry asked Christians to buy stock in the club, renovated an abandoned A&P grocery store, opened the doors and regularly filled 450 seats every weekend night, Mr. Chamblee said.

"It was a place you could bring unsaved friends and family and they wouldn't feel threatened," Mrs. Mason said.

"I am not a Southern gospel singer," she said. "I'm a contemporary gospel singer, and that speaks of Bill's broadness in how wide he would swing open the door to the Joyful Noise Christian supper club."

Mr. Flurry, a band singer off and on, drew his wife into performing. They opened the show with a gospel song and emceed the acts.

"He had stage presence," Mr. Chamblee said. "They were fantastic."

"They always did things in excellence," Mrs. Mason said. "They were a model for us, not just in the way they got along but in business and in their ministry."

It was Mr. Flurry's business acumen that kept the doors open in the face of rising costs and competition for affordable performers, Mr. Chamblee said. Mr. Flurry and his wife even stopped taking a salary to keep the money in the club.

Realizing it had been 20 years and was time to move on, Mr. Flurry continued entertaining retiree groups and recording with his wife.

"He gave the glory to God and encouraged people with such excellence," Mrs. Mason said. "I took lots of notes on Bill Flurry."

Survivors include two daughters, Angela Flurry of West Hollywood, Calif., and Melinda Wayt of Memphis; a son, Jason Flurry of Canton; and five grandsons.