Obituary

Dedicated to Friends, Past and Present

William Hayes Kirkpatrick, affectionately known as "Bill Cannonball," departed this world on December 24, 2023, at the age of 81.  Born on January 28, 1942, he was the beloved son of the late WV Pat and Irene Owen Kirkpatrick.  Bill leaves behind a legacy of love and adventure, survived by his devoted wife of 53 years, Rebecca Lee Kirkpatrick of Athens.  Bill is also survived by his sister-in-law Mary Lee-Baer and David Baer, cousins Bill and Teddi Hambaugh, Tommy and Linda Irons of Nashville, Juanita Owen & Scott Pryor Murfreesboro, Lynette Owen and Wray Hodgin of Virginia, Charles Chuck and Jeanie Owen of Knoxville, Dr.Pat Kirkpatrick,MD, and Sandra Ohara Kirkpatrick of VA.  Our Airline Family still today Jerry and Diane Davis from Mississippi.  Don and Janet Ross of the Villages Florida, Ken and Gail Taggart of Maryville , Susan McCulley Dempsey of Mississippi, Carol Jones Haley of Memphis, and the late Rusty Wilco Haley. His nieces Noelle Cline Respert and boys, and Nikki Cline and girls, Sabra Cline Cassada and children.

Bill's early fascination with flight ignited his aviation journey as a teenager, working at local airports, fueling planes, and earning precious flying hours. His military dreams took flight in the USAF, a short-lived chapter due to the constraints of flying with glasses. Undeterred, Bill soared through a diverse career, piloting for J L Carver, Plastics Co, and Industrial Boiler Chatt.

In March of 1966, Bill's wings found a permanent home with Southern Airways, embarking on a journey that spanned mergers into Republic and Northwest, culminating in his retirement with Delta Airlines in 1993. A seasoned aviator, he navigated a range of aircraft, from the classic DC3 and Martin404 to the modern DC9, 10, 30, 50, and 80.

Throughout his life, Bill cherished the camaraderie of friends like Mike Amos, Eddie Morris, and Bernie Wade. Beyond the cockpit, he imparted his aviation wisdom during a brief teaching stint at Sewanee University. His influence extended to cherished nieces Noelle Cline Respert, Nikki Cline, and Sabra Cline Cassada and their families.

In his final years, Bill experienced the compassionate care of the people at Caris and NHC, for which his family is profoundly grateful. In honoring his wish, Bill will be donating his body to the UT Neurological in Memphis, TN.

A formal funeral will not be held, but a Celebration of Life will be announced later, allowing family and friends to come together, reminisce, and pay tribute to a man who touched the skies and the hearts of those who knew him.

Fair winds and blue skies, Captain Bill Cannonball Kirkpatrick. You will be dearly missed, but your spirit will forever soar in the hearts of those who were privileged to know you.


William Hayes Kirkpatrick
January 28, 1942 — December 24, 2023