Mr. William Barnett Birdwell, 76
William Barnett “Bill” Birdwell, age 76, passed away Wednesday, January 12, 2022, in Gainesville, GA, after a short illness. Memorial services will be held in Gainesville at a future date. Bill’s ashes will be spread over the waters at Shell Point Beach, FL, the place he loved, in late spring.
Bill was born in Tonopah, NV on February 28, 1945, to Guy and Hazel Birdwell. He was married to Nancy Goode Birdwell, the love of his life, for 32 years. As the son of a Methodist minister who moved often, Bill grew up in multiple small Texas towns. He graduated from Marfa High School; received his bachelor’s degree in business at the University of Texas El Paso; and his MBA at Texas Christian University.
Bill served his country as a pilot in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was assigned to pilot the KC 135Q in the SR71 Blackbird program.
During his 52-week pilot training program, Bill formed close bonds with the men that he trained with, especially Malcolm Emerson, who was like a brother to him. He maintained contact with those in his pilot training program through reunions held over recent years. He treasured this time with his Air Force buddies, telling stories from their time serving their country. Bill’s passion for flight and his country continued throughout his life.
Bill worked in the Corporate Credit Union industry for most of his adult life, beginning in Texas, then on to Tennessee, and California until retiring as CEO of Southeast Corporate Credit Union in Tallahassee, FL in 2010.
Bill and Nancy moved to Shell Point Beach, located just south of Tallahassee, in 2004, prior to Bill’s retirement. Shell Point quickly became Bill’s favorite place on earth. He grabbed hold of every moment he could spend enjoying fishing, boating, and nature photography. If he wasn’t out on the water fishing on his boat he named CU Later, you would find him on his dock cleaning the fish he caught so he could have them for dinner, getting ready to take his grandson fishing, tinkering in his workshop, or out photographing the beautiful seabirds found in the area year-round. He and Nancy lived in Shell Point Beach for almost 14 years, where they had many close friends that were like family to them. You would often find Bill out fishing with, or just talking “guy talk” with his buddies Jerry, Julian, Jesse, Phil, and Jody.
Bill and Nancy moved to Gainesville, GA in 2017 to be closer to their daughter Hillary and grandchildren, Wyatt, and Avalynn. They did not want to miss Wyatt’s and Avalynn’s growing up years. Here they gained another group of special friends who lived in their wonderful Cresswind on Lake Lanier neighborhood. Bill and his neighbor and best buddy, Mark, enjoyed drumming up new projects or just hanging out in Bill’s workshop, riding bikes together, and going out on Lake Lanier in Mark’s boat. He also enjoyed spending time with neighbors and friends Dan and Jack. Bill loved spending time with, and taking photographs of his grandson Wyatt, who played football for Chestatee High School, and his granddaughter, Avalynn who is a cheerleader for the Jr War Eagles. He would love having long talks on the phone with his son, Robert, who lives in Texas, and was so happy that Robert and his wife Oksana were able to come to Gainesville for a visit last summer.
All who knew Bill loved him. He was a faithful servant to Jesus Christ, a loving and devoted husband, a precious father and grandfather, and a kindhearted and steadfast friend. Bill will be missed by many, but his family is comforted with the knowledge that he is at home with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Survivors include Bill’s wife, Nancy Birdwell, his son, Robert (Oksana) Birdwell of Leander, TX, his daughter Hillary (Jeremy) Small of Gainesville, GA, his grandchildren Wyatt, Avalynn, Belka, Scarlett, and Violett, his sister Marie Bell, his brother Guy Lynn (Valerie) Birdwell, his sister-in-law, Pamela Taylor, and many much-loved nieces, nephews, and cousins. Bill would also want to mention his long-time Texas friend Ric Panzera.
In addition to his parents Guy and Hazel Birdwell, Bill was preceded in death by his sister Clara Morris, his brother-in-law Eddie Morris, and his brother-in-law Stan Bell.
For those who wish to make a memorial contribution in Bill’s honor, the family suggests that it be made to one of the following:
Hooked on Heroes, a charity which provides free fishing trips on the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico to veterans (hookedonheroes.com)
Waves of Grace, a charity which provides cancer patients in the midst of battling cancer, and their families, a restful and renewing week at the beach. (www.waves-of-grace.org),
or to the charity of your choice.
“The eternal God is our dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” Deuteronomy 33:27
Memorial Park North Riverside Chapel 989 Riverside Drive Gainesville, Georgia is in charge of arrangements. For online condolences www.memorialparkfuneralhomes.com
Malcolm & I are just heartbroken for you & all your family on Bill's passing & your great loss. Our hearts go out to you.
Remember GOD's Promises. He has welcomed Bill into His Presence now. Bill will be joining Jesus & His Fishermen🎣 on Heaven's Shores. There'll be some mighty big fish to be caught 🎣 Bill will be truly in His Glory 🎣 And GOD can calm the waters of your life too...I know that He can🙏🙏🙏✝️
Much Love ❤️ & Prayers 🙏,
Malcolm & Anne
This loving tribute written about Bill is perfectly phrased. He was a prince of a man and will be missed by many. Peace to his family upon his passing.
Mike & Judy De Paul
We will miss you Bill. Soar with the eagles.
Bill was just the best, funny, friendly and modest. He never had a negative thing to say about anyone. In the pool room we called him “Banking Bill” because of his amazing ability to make bank shots. But he would never take credit, always insisting he was “just lucky.” He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
Nancy: Sincere sorrow for Bill's passing. They always take the good ones first.
He was a gentleman and a great friend. Condolences.
Bernie & Rosemary
I am so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. He flew in our group of four in my 4-ship T-38 check ride at Moody and I really enjoyed renewing our friendship during our reunions. He was one of the good guys and will be missed. My prayers for you and your family.
Bill is one of those rare people who, once you have met them, you are forever glad you did. Time and places change but there are those rare souls who will always live on in the memories of others, Bill’s warmth, easy smile, humble ways and respect for his fellow traveler not only touched others but put a spotlight on how we all should treat one another. A good man has gone home but not without first making the world a better place. We are truly Blessed to have known him.
Dave & Cyndi
Linda and Rod Riemenschneider
Being snowbirds from Iowa to Shell Point for 11 years, we had the pleasure of knowing Bill and Nancy through mutual friends. Bill Birdwell smile was so genuine and so was he. Such a great guy always stopping to give Rod a helping hand with his boat and also some great fishing tips. He loved people it was so obvious! Nancy dear, we are very sad to hear this. 🙏🏼🥲♥️
Zach and Joanie Taylor
We were so very sorry to hear this news. Praying that all your wonderful memories will help you through this transition and also being surrounded by loving friends and family. Dr. Zach and Joanie Taylor, Cresswind
Kathie & Alan Lamarche
We are so sorry to learn of Bill's passing. He was truly a special man whose friendship we valued. Please know that you are in our hearts as you make your way through this difficult time, and we look forward to seeing you when you come back to Shell Point. God bless you and comfort you.
I am so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with Nancy and the rest of the family.
Very sorry to hear this. I will always be grateful to Bill for giving me the opportunity to start a new venture at SECORP. Bill was a great mentor, always encouraging and supportive.
He never missed an opportunity to brag about his children and grandchildren, you always knew where his priorities lay.
Truly a good and faithful servant in this world. No doubt he will be the same in his next life - with rewards for his service. I will always remember the time we shared. Bill was a special man.
Nancy and Family - I am so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. I enjoyed working with Bill over the years at Volunteer Corporate Credit Union (VolCorp). His leadership as CEO of VolCorp in the early years will always be remembered by many. He was a true believer of the credit union community. I will personally miss him and will value the years we worked together. Prayers and God bless you all!
Oh Nancy, we are so sorry for the loss of your sweet Bill. When y'all moved from Shell Point, it left such a void in our little neighborhood. Yet, we understood that caring for and influencing your grandchildren is an important priority. Our memories of Bill keep us smiling - his warm and friendly manner, and his care for the Seafarer's Chapel are tributes to his fine character. May the Lord comfort you, Nancy, and your daughter and grands, during this time.
I missed out on a lot not knowing Bill❣️My heart and prayers to Nancy and the many others who lived him.
Heartbreaking news. Nancy and family, you are in my prayers. Thank you for including me with your Super Bowl invites after my husband died…I pray your friends will be as considerate to you.
I always admired Bill in his roll as husband to you and father to Hillary and children.
Gary & Katrina Rolle
Nancy, Katrina and I wish you peace, perspective and God’s speed through this tough time. Bill’s soul could be felt at every encounter with him. Whether it was as a patient, neighbor or friend, his love and deep concern for everyone around him was always truly present. We will miss him.
I flew with Bill as the name navigator on his crew. The strongest memory I have of that time is when we all had the weekend off. My wife and I went to Lake Tahoe to see Donnie and Marie and the Boom Operator went to Reno to see Elvis. I don't know what Bill did, but he missed two final performances. Maybe he will find them in Heaven. God love him.
I was so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. He was a favorite neighbor, always stopping to chat about last fishing trip or project. Bill was a "class" guy and enjoyed life. My thoughts and prayers are with Nancy and the family.
Deb Vanderwerf Higgins
Condolences to Nancy and family. Bill was a true gentleman in life and business. He will be missed. May your happy memories carry you through these difficult days. You are in my prayers.
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