William “Bill” Ward Stanley, 88 years old, returned to his Heavenly Father on December 6th, 2023. He was preceded in death by his wife, Wilma Jean Turner Stanley, his daughter Bethany Anne Stanley and his parents William Elton Stanley and Hilda Ward Stanley. He is survived by his son William Wright Stanley of Raleigh, NC, his daughter Lisa Joan Harhan (Patrick) of Herndon, VA, his granddaughter Rachel Anne Harhan Needham (Hunter) of Atlanta, GA, his sisters Hilda June Page (Phillip) and Edith Anne Sanders (Ricky) of Columbia and his sister-in-law Deanna Smith (Jackie) of Lillian, AL and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be conducted on Monday, December 11, 2023 at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home. Burial will follow in Rose Hill Cemetery. The family will visit with friends on Monday, December 11, 2023 from 12:00 P.M. till the time of service at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home.
Bill was born and raised in Columbia, TN where he early on showed a keen interest in a wide variety of areas including photography, music (he played the trumpet and was a member of the marching band at Columbia High School and went on to play in college as well), was a lifeguard at Camp Montreat, NC and loved all things that were technical/mechanical in nature. Since his father owned a local TV repair shop, he started tagging along with him on TV and antenna installations and that only furthered his desire to make/build things. Once he graduated from CHS (Class of 1953) he attended Tennessee Tech where he studied engineering.
It was during this time that he met the love of his life Wilma on a blind date at the movies with friends in Columbia. They soon after became engaged and were married in Columbia in 1957 and drove off in a Model A to honeymoon in Gulf Shores. That began an adventure that would last for the next 63 years! One of Bill’s first professional jobs after they were married was in Columbia surveying sites/properties. Eventually, Bill and Wilma moved to Huntsville, Alabama where Bill was recruited by IBM and started a career that would span over 35 years! During that career he had many highlights with the one he was most proud of was his involvement in the NASA space program. As a design/development engineer he helped design/enhance components of Saturn V that carried the Apollo missions to the moon. That culminated in him being invited by NASA to the launch of the Apollo 17 mission to the moon. He eventually moved with IBM in 1977 to Raleigh, NC where he worked as a design/development engineer until his retirement.
Bill and Wilma had three children who were his pride and joy – and they spent many vacations going back to Gulf Shores where they camped as a family together. After moving to Raleigh, they vacationed at the Southern Outer Banks where the entire family created wonderful memories (swimming, playing board games, eating at the great seafood restaurants, etc.). The other special vacations included the ones back home to Columbia and Huntsville for the holidays or going back to Columbia to celebrate the infamous Mule Day with all the family!
Once the children were grown and Bill retired, he and Wilma went on numerous adventures – traveling in Europe and throughout the US, including Hawaii. They also spent time enjoying participating in dance clubs where they honed their skills and going to concerts as they both enjoyed all kinds of music!
Bill and Wilma were active members of Lakewood Presbyterian Church in Huntsville, AL and then at St Giles in Raleigh, North Carolina where Bill served as an elder. Bill was also passionate about helping others and supported NAMI and served on its Board of Directors.
It was a life well lived!