OBITUARY: William LeVaughn Holley

William LeVaughn Holley

William LeVaughn “Bill” Holley November 11, 1939 – September 3, 2021. Graveside service 3pm on Friday September 10, 2021 Mt. Olivet Cemetery 1101 Lebanon Pk. Nashville 37210.

Bill Holley “let go” of the tethers to this world and peacefully transitioned to meet his Maker on Friday, September 3, 2021.

Born at home in the rural community of Petersburg, TN November 11, 1939, he was the only child of a Tennessee Farmer Clyde Holley and a Tennessee Homemaker Naomi Ruth Crabtree. They were sharecroppers. He worked hard, played hard, slung milk cans before school, and was raised on cornbread, buttermilk, and church on Sunday morning.

He left the rural life and a job at Heil Quaker and moved to Nashville to attend the Harris School of Advertising Art, sometimes working three jobs, including one for the state, to keep all of his responsibilities met. He paid a young boy on a bicycle fifty cents to get the name of the cute girl on the porch next door, courted her, and married Beverly Byrd on September 1, 1962. They had two daughters, Debbie and Lori.

He lived the “Mad Men” era in the advertising industry spending nearly 50 years at The Buntin Group, one of the top advertising agencies in the country. He was Buntin’s infamous “Employee Number One,” a tag he wore with pride even after he retired. His art directing, creative design, and copywriting skills helped to build and broaden the brands of the many clients on The Buntin Group roster and his own The Design Consortium and Bill Holley & Friends freelance rosters. He helped develop the Cracker Barrel brand, designing the iconic logo when they were his freelance account and there were no more than a handful of stores helping them grow to become a Buntin account. Today, that logo is seen up and down every highway and is a piece of Americana. At Buntin, he had a hand in developing the recognizable names of Red Lobster, O’Charley’s, Dollar General, Captain D’s, Shoneys, and Lowe’s. He loved an adventure and often seemed fearless during photo shoots that included anything from a live jaguar to being run up and over the fence in a rodeo arena by a hot-tempered bull.

Holley worked diligently to keep current and competitive in the business that he loved. He was the recipient of numerous Addy Awards and was named the Nashville Advertising Federation’s (NAF) Silver Medalist recipient in 2006 for lifetime achievement in advertising. During his speech, he shared the joy in finding a career that made him feel as though he was “a kid going off to play in the sandbox each day.” He had a love of painting and created many wonderful pieces of art over his lifetime. In retirement, he penned two books, Flour Sack Shirts And Homemade Jam and Peach Trees, Honey Bees and Faded Overalls, both collections of snapshot tales from his rural upbringing. He was a mentor and an inspiration to everyone around him but placed little importance on being in the spotlight himself.

He truly understood and appreciated the smallest, most basic things in life and he lived his life to the fullest, snapping up the window shade the first thing every morning and shouting “Good Morning World!” For Bill Holley, life wasn’t about “things,” it was about relationships. He treated people the way he would want to be treated if he were in their circumstances. He loved God and his church, his family, friends, neighbors, and business colleagues. His pets were precious to him. He read his Bible from cover to cover multiple times and truly lived his life by “The Golden Rule,” Matthew 7:12. Time is all we’re given. He used his time here wisely and he shared the gift of his time with the world. We can all carry the love of Bill Holley in our hearts. Forever our Hero!

Pallbearers: Jeffrey Buntin Sr., Robert Rowlett, Bill Waters, Ron Weatherly, Bill Wilburn, Shawn Wright, Zachary Skipper.

Family/Survivors: He is survived by his sweetheart of 59 years Beverly Lee Byrd Holley; daughters – Debbie Holley (Stan Piotrowski) and Lori Holley Weeks (Tracy); cousins – Shelby Jean Frazier and Dixie Waters; sister’s-in-law – Charlotte Wright and Barbara Boswell (Randy); Nieces and Nephews – Shannon Bumgardner (John), Shawn Wright, Bill Wilburn (Jennifer), Stephanie Moore (Josh), Zachary Skipper (Haley) and Lindsay Rowlett (Robert); more than 10 Grand Nieces, Nephews, Second Cousins and “Pusskits,” his longtime feline friend.

Family and Friends of the Heart: Bill “Sonny” Wilburn, David Wright, Randy Guidry, Shannon Guidry Crabson, Courtney Wilburn, David Baucom, Betty St. Clair, Donna Richmond, Scott Williams, and Debbie Mulloy Sanders.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Bill Holley Design Scholarship ([email protected]) or Grassland Heights Baptist Church in Franklin, TN.


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