On March 27, 1939, Stephen and Ella (Big Mom) Petty welcomed their son, William Harold, into this world in the walls of a boxcar on the rails of Old Hickory. Brother to Ruth and Bob, and raised in a home that he helped build one bent and straightened nail at a time on McArthur Drive, deep in the heart of Dog Patch, friendships that remain to this day were firmly cast for Billy Petty in Miles of journey and with a lot of Luck along the river -- digging up skulls, catching a shark and trading cars - all set to a backdrop of music as you laid a foundation playing bass with your buddies and danced on the Opry Stage.
As “Bill”, you applied the strength in your hands to all that you did: grocery store sweeper, shot putter, discus thrower, auto upholsterer, grenade launcher. Then, on the dance floor of the American Legion Post in Inglewood, you met her, a lovely young woman with dark brown hair who loved to dance as much as you – Jane Ann Tucker. The rest was history…and the future for those of us lucky enough to know you.
Barrels and stakes became a passion on the back of a spotted named Apache, and a job at DuPont offered stability as your family of 2 became 3 with the arrival of a son and a slight change to your signature. You became a Senior, for this little boy would claim the honor of your name - Billy. Three years later, 3 would become 4. A beautiful daughter, Tracy Leigh, trotted her way into your life and your heart.
You worked the only way you knew for 37 years: hard…sometimes too hard. And, with Jane ever by your side, you demonstrated over the course of more than 50 years your own unique language of love. Through your powerful, grip-crushing hands, you passed along experience and skills. Camping. Fishing. Riding a bike. Flying a kite. Shooting a basketball. Hitting a softball. Then, driving a car. Changing out brakes or spark plugs. Setting points. Building a deck. Driving a boat…as it sank…in the lake.
Holding a child…especially a grandchild.
You played four or six strings at every opportunity. Truth be told, there are some that would not know you without the Fender Mustang in your hands, or 9 Pound Hammer ringing from every guitar you ever held. Your bass voice bellowed in Southern Gospel celebration.
You laughed, and we laughed with you. Jokes and stories and puns were ever present, as was the raucous, belly-shaking laugh that broke loose before you could even finish. The Liars Club was never the same.
And…you danced. Oh, how you danced. Your strong hands gently leading Mom across the floor in an endless cycle of steps and turns and spins. You danced your way into the lives of so many, and your memory dances in our minds even now.
Coach. Mentor. Operator. Story Teller. Life Coach. Best Friend. Advisor. Mr. Fixit. Dr. Quack.
Child of God. Papa. Daddy. Husband. Bill Petty, Sr.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested monetary donations to White House High School, 508 Tyree Springs Road, White House, TN 37188 in memory of Bill Petty, Sr. Please be sure to indicate that your gift is in memory of Bill Petty, Sr.