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William T. Nightingale Jr.

Dec 9, 2012 - Staff

William T. Nightingale Jr., formerly of Lander, died Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012, surrounded by family. He was 83 years old.

Per his request, there will be no services.

William Thomas Nightingale Jr. was born March 1, 1929, in Hollywood, Calif. He was raised in Rock Springs and attended high school at the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. He then graduated from Yale University. He proudly served In the U.S. Navy on the USS Blackwood during the Korean conflict, earning the rank of lieutenant commander.

In 1952, he married Anne Benedict in Darien, Conn. The two moved to Lander where they raised their sons. He was a member of the Trinity Episcopal Church and served on the Vestry for many years. He was a lay reader and helped lead the capital campaign to construct the new Trinity Episcopal Church in Lander. He loved community service, supporting the local chamber of commerce, State of Wyoming Library Commission, One Shot Antelope Hunt, Gottsche Foundation, Wyoming State Training School, FFA and the Rotary Club, to name a few.

He was also active with the American Legion and served as post commander. One of his favorite Legion adventures was getting up early on Memorial Day to place flags up and down Main Street. In addition to his community involvement, Mr. Nightingale was a successful entrepreneur whose businesses included Lander Valley Insurance, Central Trust Company and the Central Bank and Trust. In 1979 he lost his beloved wife, Anne.

Mr. Nightingale loved telling stories of his days in Lander. A family favorite was Lander's quest to have the world's largest Christmas tree.

He and fellow brave Landerites Tom Davey and Joe Kenney Sr. located a 142-foot tall Engelmann spruce above Dubois.

They brought the tree to Lander, where it was erected as the world's tallest Christmas tree. While telling the story, Mr. Nigh-tingale always chuckled because the tree's immense size meant many branches were broken as it was cut down and had to be nailed back onto the tree.

Lander was in the spotlight that year as "the little town that could."

He met the second love of his life, Linda Benjamin, in Saratoga, Calif. In 1982 they married in Jackson Hole. They lived in Jackson Hole for several years before moving to Tucson, Ariz. They loved to travel, share life with their good friends, and take many walks in one of their favorite places on earth, "sound of music meadow" near Jackson Hole. They were truly best friends in life.

Mr. Nightingale mastered the violin at an early age and played at church gatherings and family events. He played with the Utah and Denver symphonies, and in the late 1960s he was instrumental in bringing classical music to Lander by inviting both symphonies to play for the community. He also co-hosted a Sunday afternoon radio program called "Music of the Masters."

While living in Jackson Hole, he and Linda were very involved with the Teton Music Festival. One project brought the New York Philharmonic to Jackson Hole. Over the years, he had built an enormous collection of sheet music; some say the largest they have ever seen. That collection is now being used by the University of Arizona music department.

His family said he enjoyed music, golfing, boating, snowmobiling and flying radio control airplanes with his sons.

They said "he was a remarkable man, always reaching out to help those less fortunate. He loved life, his country and most of all, he loved his family. He provided a great example in the lives of his sons who were proud to call him Pa."

He is survived by his wife, Linda Benjamin Nightingale of Tucson, Ariz.; sons William (Tom) Nightingale III of Alta Loma, Calif., David Smith of Denver, Guion Nightingale of Owasso, Okla., Courtney Smith of San Jose, Calif., Frank Nightingale of Phoenix, and Greg Smith of Auburn, Calif.; 12 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William T. Nightingale and Iola S. Stacher, and his wife, Anne Benedict Nightingale.

In lieu of flowers, he would like to be remembered through donations to Peppi's House, TMC Ho-spice, 5301 E. Grant Road, Tucson, AZ 85712.

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