William "Bill" Harrison Lanford Sr.
December 10, 1935 – July 22, 2020
William “Bill” Harrison Lanford, Sr., age 84, passed away peacefully at home July 22, 2020 with his loving family around him.
The family will celebrate his life by a private service with Rev. William Thetford, pastor of Capstone Village Church officiating. Burial will follow at Tuscaloosa Memorial Park.
Bill's parents, Elise Moore Harrison and Edward Douglas Lanford, Sr., and also his brother, Edward Douglas Lanford, Jr. preceded him in death.
He is survived by his loving wife and best friend of 60 years, Cynthia McMillan Lanford, and their children and grandchildren whom he dearly loved and was so proud: Cynthia Celeste Lanford Wells, AnnElise Lanford Guffee (Ed), and William Harrison Lanford, Jr. (Anita), and his grandchildren Lauren Elise Wells, Sara Caroline Wells, William Andrew Guffee, Anne Brannon Guffee, and Lawson Isabella Lanford.
A native of Gadsden, Alabama, Bill graduated from Gadsden High School and then attended the University of Alabama where he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity. While serving as the campus Inter Fraternity Council president, he was elected president of the Southeastern Inter Fraternity Conference. He graduated with a BS from the School of Commerce and Business Administration, and was commissioned in the United States Army Reserve. He ended his service career in the U.S. Army Intelligence Reserve.
After college and active service duty, he wanted to make Tuscaloosa his home and joined the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1959. In time, he was employed by Cotton States Life Insurance Company which he served as vice-president and member of the board of directors. After the sale of Cotton States to ALFA, he was named an ALFA company vice-president. Soon after, he became executive vice-president, agency director and board member of Southland National Life Insurance Corporation. He retired from Southland in 1997 as president and CEO.
As well as beginning a career in the life insurance business, Bill became involved early in the Tuscaloosa community which he dearly loved. Always believing in "the importance and responsibility of paying civic rent" he was annual fund drive chairman for the United Way of West Alabama, plus the YMCA, American Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Stillman College, Cancer Society, Heart Fund, and Girl Scouts.
In 1975 he was appointed to the Tuscaloosa City School Board of Education and served as chairman for five of his ten years, during which time integration was achieved. Tuscaloosa voted in 1985 to change local government to a mayor and council form. Bill Lanford was elected to the District 6 council position and served two terms as council president being elected by the members in 1985 and again in 1989. He retired from the Council in 1993.
An active and devoted alumnus of the University of Alabama, he was elected National Alumni President for 1976-77 after serving two terms as a regional vice-president and president elect. Other University involvement included the President's Cabinet, Commerce Executives Society, Omicron Delta Kappa and The Denny Society.
Bill was a member of the board of directors of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce and elected chairman in 1999. He was vice-chairman of the West Alabama Planning and Development Council, United Way president, a member of the board of directors of the Stafford Hotel Corporation, First National Bank/AMSouth, Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, DCH Foundation, Black Warrior Boy Scout Council, Association of Alabama School Boards, and Focus on Senior Citizens. He was the Wind Drift Owners Association (Orange Beach) president for ten years.
The Chamber of Commerce Task Force of 1995 under his leadership succeeded in gaining a joint commitment of 4.25 million dollars by the cities of Tuscaloosa, Northport and the County for the expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium to 83,818 seats bringing all home football games to Tuscaloosa.
Recognition for accomplishments included: University of Alabama National Alumni Association 2006 Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2004 induction into the Tuscaloosa County Civic Hall of Fame, 2005 Tuscaloosa Community Foundation Pillar of the Community, 1997 Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement award as well as the Chamber 1996 Charles Land Member of the Year. Bill was named 1994 Civitan Citizen of the Year, Delta Kappa Citizen Educator, and Executive Directors of Volunteer Services Volunteer of the Year. He lead Tuscaloosa City raises for the School System funding from $500,000 per year to $2.5 million in the 80's, assisted as Council President in bringing Mercedes-Benz and JVC here, requested and received in 1993 the first funding for Black Warrior River Front Improvement through a federal grant. He was given the award for Outstanding Community Service by the Tuscaloosa Advertising Federation and the 2011 MLK award for "A Lifetime Commitment to the Dream."
Bill was an avid tennis player, gardener and reader all of which gave him great enjoyment. He loved listening to music and had quite an interest in politics as a participant plus later as a spectator sport. He loved being on the water beginning in childhood on Lake Guntersville to Lake Tuscaloosa and Orange Beach. He delighted in waterskiing and teaching his children how to ski. A devoted member of First United Methodist Church, Bill also held memberships in the Tuscaloosa Rotary Club of which he was a Rotary International Paul Harris fellow, and Romeo Lunch Bunch.
The family is most grateful for the wonderful care given Bill by Dr. Jerre White, Cedric Stewart, Val Stallworth, Joe Perkins, the staff of Capstone Village, Dr. John Warren, Dr. Cleveland Kinney, Hospice of West Alabama and Steve Wells.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the Tuscaloosa Public Library 1801 Jack Warner Parkway or charity of donor's choice.
Arrangements are under the care of Heritage Chapel Funeral & Cremations, a Dignity Memorial Provider.
Condolences may be offered at www.HeritageChapelTuscaloosa.com.
- He is survived by his loving wife and best friend of 60 years, Cynthia McMillan Lanford, and their children and grandchildren whom he dearly loved and was so proud: Cynthia Celeste Lanford Wells, AnnElise Lanford Guffee (Ed), and William Harrison Lanford, Jr. (Anita), and his grandchildren Lauren Elise Wells, Sara Caroline Wells, William Andrew Guffee, Anne Brannon Guffee, and Lawson Isabella Lanford.
Learn more about the Lanford name
Private Family Celebration of Life Service, Interment, All Are Invited To Lunch
William "Bill" Harrison Lanford Sr.
July 26, 2020
Bill, you were so instrumental in my life, teaching me so many things.
From learning how to waterski to encouraging me to keep up the pace when we would go quail hunting even though the mud on my boots weighed more than I did!
You always instilled in me that things were never as bad as they seemed, no matter the circumstances and to always try and think first before I opened my mouth. I’m still working on that! You taught me to try and look at the positive side of things and to laugh whenever possible. You alway said it was healthy to laugh at yourself And I try to do that every day. Encouragement was always given and I never took it for granted. You gave me perspectives that I couldn’t get anywhere else.
I’ll always remember the time our families spent together, especially at Christmas. I know how lucky I am to have a whole other ‘family’ in the Lanfords.
I’ll always think of you and will miss you terribly.
July 23, 2020
I worked with Bill on a number of community programs. He was always so thoughtful, friendly, and "right on target" with his planning and thinking. Although I now live in the Portland, OR, area, I remember that Tuscaloosa was a wonderful place to live (for 26 years), and Bill is probably one of the chief architects of making the city that way. He will be greatly missed.
July 23, 2020
Cynthia, Bob and I are so sorry about Bill’s passing. Please know how respected he was by so many during his professional and political career. Bill served as a mentor for both Bob and me and for that we are much appreciative. His legacy will live on in the many accomplishments he made to improve the quality of life for Tuscaloosans. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Love, Virginia Ennis
July 23, 2020
Bill was a good man, a good leader and always a good friend. I think most people do not realize how much he mean't to the city, not just in government leadership but also in the civic life of Tuscaloosa.
God speed Bill your work here is done. And may Gob bless and comfort your family in this time of loss.