OBITUARY: William Pierce Puryear III


William Pierce Puryear III: Our father and grandfather Bill Puryear, aged 89, of Gallatin, Tennessee, passed from this world on February 16th, 2023 after a full and joyful life.

He was born August 17, 1933, in Gallatin, to the late Judge William P. Puryear, Jr. and Judelle (Reynolds) Puryear.

His beloved wife of 60 years, Claudia Owen Puryear, also precedes him in death, as do brothers Reynolds Puryear and Brady Puryear (Elaine).

He leaves behind to mourn his loss and celebrate his life his children, William Owen Puryear (Cheryl) of Gallatin; David Puryear (Robin) of Nashville; Lina Puryear Marler (Jim) of Gallatin; John Puryear (Laura) of Gallatin; and Dan Puryear (Sarah) of Nashville.

He is survived by 15 grandchildren, Pierce Weber (fiancé Abby Ratliff), Kate Puryear Brown (Justin), Ellen Weber of Brooklyn, New York; Caroline Marler Zampino (Dan) of Clearwater, Florida; Erin Puryear, John Christian Puryear, Grace Puryear Hencey (Carl), Hayden Puryear (fiancé Erica Larson) of Sonoma, California; Sara Puryear Hunziker (Jeremy) of La Jolla, California; George Weber, James Puryear (fiancé Amelia Maxfield), Claire Marler (fiancé Christian Bennett) of Centerton, Arkansas; Anna Puryear, Hays Puryear and Evelyn Puryear; and two great-grandchildren, Luke Brown, and Nolan Bennett. All live locally in Tennessee or otherwise noted.

Bill was a graduate of Gallatin High School Class of 1951 and a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He was a veteran of the Korean Conflict, serving with the Army’s 24th Infantry Division along the Korean DMZ. After graduating from Vanderbilt, he worked at Price Waterhouse, earning his CPA designation.

In 1961, he founded the independent CPA firm William Puryear and Co., which continues today as Puryear & Noonan. He served his profession as a lobbyist for the Tennessee Society of CPAs, both in the Tennessee Legislature and the U.S. Congress. During this time, he also taught Business Management and Accounting at Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities as well as the University of Tennessee, Nashville and was elected President of the Nashville Estate Planning Council.

Likewise, he served his community in many ways.

In 1965, while still maintaining his active practice of accounting, he joined others as founding Treasurer and Trustee of newly formed Nashville Memorial Hospital. He later became Chairman of its Board of Trustees and continued in that position with its successor, The Memorial Foundation, a charitable foundation funded from the proceeds of the sale of the hospital in 1994. Since its formation, The Memorial Foundation has distributed over $190 million in grants to charitable institutions in Middle Tennessee and continues to give generously today and into the future. After fifty years of service, he was elected by the board of the Memorial Foundation as Chairman Emeritus, an active position he maintained until his death.

Likewise, influenced deeply by his mother’s legacy as a teacher, he made education a lifelong focus of his civic service, participating in the formation of three schools. He was founding Chairman of Sumner Academy in Gallatin, founding Treasurer of Pope John Paul II High School in Hendersonville, and a founder of St. John Vianney elementary school in Gallatin, as well as Gallatin Day Care Center.

Bill was a Renaissance man. As a historian, he authored or co-authored several books of historical interest, including the landmark series Founding of the Cumberland Settlements; Thoroughfare for Freedom; and The First Southwest, in 2012. He served as chairman of The Sumner County Library Commission and a board member of the Sumner County Historical Society as well as the Tennessee Historical Commission.

He was also a practicing artist his entire adult life. His paintings and watercolors hang in museums, private homes, and institutions throughout Nashville and beyond. The convergence of his love of writing, art and poetry resulted in a monthly website called the Artist’s Almanac, published online from 2004 until his death. A compilation of writings from this journal was published under the same name in 2017. His last painting just a few months ago was a portrait of Claudia, the love of his life. After her passing in 2015, he published Letters to Claudia, a story of their love and life featuring the letters between them during their courtship and the story behind their wonderful journey.

Bill’s very full life resulted in a great deal of good being done for a great many people. He was kind, compassionate and welcoming to all, and made genuine service his mission. For our family, however, his greatest achievement was the warm, stable, and happy life that he gave to all of us. He was a loving son, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather whose first thoughts were always how he could better serve his family. His complete devotion to our mother was an example for all of us and his loving, wise and gentle counsel to his children was the gift of a lifetime. He will be missed by all, yet we rejoice in the certainty of the Resurrection and celebrate a life of joy, service and goodwill that will live on forever.

The family expresses their heartfelt gratitude to the caregivers who lovingly cared for Bill in his final years. Their devotion and dedication will always be remembered.

Visitation will be held on Thursday, February 23 from 3:00 – 8:00 pm at Alexander Funeral Home & Cremation Center, 584 Nashville Pike, Gallatin, TN 37066, and on Friday, February 24 from 11:00 to 1:00 at Gallatin First United Methodist Church, 149 W. Main St, Gallatin, TN 37066. Service to follow at the church at 1:00. Flowers are always welcome as they perfectly symbolize the beauty that surrounded Bill in his art and gardens.

Given Bill’s dedication to service and commitments to others, donations to charities would also be very appropriate. Memorials can be made to: The Memorial Foundation, 100 Bluegrass Dr #320, Hendersonville, TN 37075; First United Methodist Church, 149 W. Main St, Gallatin, TN 37066; Highpoint Hospice, Sumner Medical Plaza, 300 Steam Plant Road #220, Gallatin, TN 37066; or the charity of your choice.

Memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared online at Alexander Funeral Home and Cremation Center in charge of arrangements 615-502-0011


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