Phyllis Hess, Ohio

Obit for Bill Pannill

June 11, 2014

Categories: American Daffodil Society, Daffodil Enthusiasts, General, Hybridizer, Hybridizing, People Awards

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William G. (Bill) Pannill of Palm Beach Florida passed away on Tuesday, June 10th at his summer home in Roaring Gap, N.C. after a lengthy battle with cancer.  He was born in Martinsville, VA on March 25, 1927. He is survived by his wife, Alice Zimmer Pannill of Palm Beach, FL, a daughter, Catherine Pannill Ward, a son, William Letcher Pannill and daughter-in-law, Susan Webb Pannill of Martinsville, VA, two step-daughters, Talbot Bryan Maxey of Palm Beach, FL, Anna Bryan Sullivan of Jackson, Wyoming, a sister, Carolyn Pannill Franck of Martinsville, VA and brother-in-law William F. (Bill) Franck.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Catherine Bass Pannill and five sisters, Lucy Lee Pannill Sale, Adele Dillard Pannill Carter, Mary Lou Pannill Lacy, Florence Hunt Pannill Smith, and Pat Dillard Pannill Mebane.

In addition, he is survived by nine grandchildren, William Gordon Pannill II, Kenneth Stuart Pannill,

John Taylor Pannill and Catherine Hazel Pannill, Tennant Bryan Maxey, Alice Pyle Maxey, Walker Pryor Sullivan, Stewart Bryan Sullivan, and Harriet Sinclair Sullivan, as well as fifty or more nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews.

Bill was born and raised in Martinsville, VA where he attended Martinsville High School.  Later he attended Fishburne Military School.  He attended Virginia Military Institution (VMI), the University of Virginia (UVA), and North Carolina State School of Textiles.  He spent three years in the US Army during which he was stationed in Germany just after World War II.

Bill began his career at Pannill Knitting Co. in 1959 and became President in 1966.  Under his direction, he helped facilitate a Leveraged Buyout (LBO) in 1984, an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1986 and the sale of the company to Sara Lee Knit Products in 1989.

He served on many various educational, business, cultural and social boards.  He served on the Boards of Hampden-Sydney College, Mary Baldwin College, and the Jeffersonian Restoration Advisory Board at the University of Virginia as well as the Boards of Pannill Knitting Company, Gravely Furniture Company and the First National Bank of Martinsville.

Bill was past President of the American Daffodil Society, the American Horticulture Society, and was the founder of the Horticulture Society of South Florida.  He also was on the Board of the National Wildflower Research Center, Callaway Gardens, the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  He was an honorary member of the Garden Club of VA, the Garden Club of Palm Beach, and the Martinsville Garden Club.

He was on the Board of the Hospice Foundation of Palm Beach County, the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, the Four Arts Society, the Intracoastal Health Foundation, the Royal Poinciana Chapel, and Elder & Trustee of the Forest Hills Presbyterian Church in Martinsville.

Bill was a co-founder of Chatmoss Country Club and long-term President of the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, FL.  He was also a member of the Country Club of VA, the Seminole Club in Juno Beach, FL, the Roaring Gap Club in Roaring Gap, NC, the Bath & Tennis Club in Palm Beach, FL, and the Bohemian Club in San Francisco, CA.  Bill was also a member of the CEO (Chief Executive Organization) and the WPO (World Presidents Organization).

At the University of VA, Bill was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, the Raven Society, and the Lawn Society.

Bill’s love and knowledge of daffodils led him to be the “World’s Greatest Authority on Daffodils”.  Since the 1960’s, he has hybridized, named, and registered over 210 new daffodils.  Although he always remained an amateur, his bulbs are grown by the acre in Holland and sold all over the world.

During his lifetime, Bill enjoyed photography, hunting, skeet shooting, golf, fishing, and working with computers.  He was an absolute wizard with Adobe Photoshop.

Most of all Bill loved being with his family.  For over 60 years they never missed being together at Christmas.  He will be dearly missed by all.

There will be a graveside service at 11:00 AM on Friday, June 13th at the Pannill Mausoleum in Oakwood Cemetery.  A reception will follow at Chatmoss Country Club.

Honorary Pallbearers will be Jack Flagg, Cameron Harris, Sam Hunt, Felix Mirando, Dudley Moore, George Summers, Barry Bowles, John Franck, and Rusty Lacy.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Carlisle School in Martinsville, VA, Hampden-Sydney College, or any charity of your choice.

Arrangements are by McKee-Stone Funeral Home in Martinsville.

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