“The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
William “Bill” David Heydel died peacefully in his home Nov. 29, 2016 in Lebanon at the age of 87.
Bill is survived by his son, Richard (Sally) Heydel, of Brentwood; brother, Kenneth Heydel, of Crab Orchard; sister, Mary (Ralph) Brown, of Rockwood; grandchildren, Lora Heydel, of Nashville, Wendy (Shane) Lynn, of Little Rock, Ark., Chrissa (Jim) Gatton, of Murfreesboro, Angie (Scott) Walker, of Murfreesboro, William (Abbie) Heydel II, of Knoxville, Wes Heydel, of Brentwood; and great-grandchildren, Truman (Rose) Tuck, of San Diego; Hunter Tuck, of Carthage, Reed, Olivia Walker, of Murfreesboro, Mason, Connor, Ethan Lynn, both of Little Rock, Ark., Heather Woodward, of Nashville, Jacob and Caleb Gatton, of Murfreesboro, and Ayden, Sarah Mae and Henley Heydel, of Knoxville.
Bill is preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Lora Heydel, formerly of Rockwood; brother, Henry Heydel, formerly of Detroit; sister, Fannie Poole, formerly of Maryville; son, Steve Heydel, formerly of Lebanon; and his loving wife of 67 years, June Love Heydel.
Bill was born April 11, 1929 in Rockwood. He graduated from Rockwood High School in 1947, where he was a standout All-State football player. He married June Love, his high school sweetheart, in 1948. He attended Vanderbilt University on a football scholarship from 1948-50 and Austin Peay State University from 1955-57, from where he played football and earned a degree in business. He is noted as a distinguished alumnus of Austin Peay. After moving to Atlanta, Bill began working for Burroughs Corp. as a salesman. While working with Burroughs in Columbus, Ga., he called on a fledgling insurance company, American Family Life, and was convinced to join them and pioneer their sales efforts in the state of Tennessee. He moved to Lebanon, and from 1964-83, developed the AFLAC Tennessee sales force into a perennial leader in the company until his retirement. Bill was recognized as an honorary co-founder of AFLAC and inducted in 2005 into the inaugural class of the AFLAC Hall of Fame and inducted into the Tennessee Insurance Hall of Fame in 2002.
In 1969, Mr. Heydel was a founding member of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store and served on its board of directors until 1999, when he became a member of the Founders Board. He remained an active participant in the company the rest of his life. He served on the board of directors of First Tennessee Bank (formerly Peoples Bank) in Lebanon since the 1960s, continuing in that role until his death. He presently served on the Board of Trust of Cumberland University since 1978 and received an honorary doctor of literary letters from Cumberland in 1983.
Bill was a stalwart in the Lebanon community, active in Rotary Club, Gideons International, the Lebanon Golf and Country Club and was an active member of First United Methodist Church since 1964. Bill was also an active participant in the Vanderbilt alumni and football alumni associations. Even though he did not graduate from Vanderbilt, he always credited the university for playing a role in his future successes.
Bill's family remembers him as a loving, generous father, grandfather and great-grandfather who encouraged them to pursue their goals and provided wisdom and support in their pursuits.
He was the ultimate "people person," never met a stranger and always had time for anyone regardless of their situation or status in life. He was as comfortable in overalls as he was in a business suit. He was passionate about getting to know people and spending time with them, and his legacy is the memories his family and friends can share about the positive life-changing encounters they had with him. His home and office were a sanctuary where people could retreat to a listening ear or to get much-needed wisdom from a man who pulled himself from poverty to great successes but never forgot his humble roots.
Active pallbearers will be William Heydel II, Wes Heydel, Scott Walker, Jim Gatton, Shane Lynn, Truman Tuck and Andy Head.
Honorary pallbearers will be friends in Lebanon Rotary Club, First United Methodist Sunday school class, Lebanon Country Club golf buddies, Cumberland University Board of Trust, First Tennessee Bank Board of Trust and Cracker Barrel Board.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Gideons International, Cumberland University, First United Methodist Church or Austin Peay State University. Condolences may be sent to Rick Heydel at 1921 Old Hickory Blvd., Brentwood, TN 37027.