William Austin Lankford Jr., 82, passed away on Dec. 19, 2018.
Lankford attended Auburn University from 1956-1960 finishing with a degree in Electrical Engineering. A stint in the Army Air Corps (117th TAC Recon Wing) took him to France during the Berlin Crisis and upon return, Lankford assumed a role at East Birmingham Bronze Foundry. He invested his entire career in the growth of the foundry, which the family started in 1930, ultimately becoming President in 1981. He was the soul of the organization until the last castings were poured in 2003.
Lankford’s children, John, Jamie and Janet were raised in a farm house he built with his own two hands on a piece of property in Shelby County. He filled their childhood with magical memories of romping through the woods, raising various farm animals and many other adventures.
He helped found a Christian school in Vestavia, started Boy Scout Troop 226 in Hoover. Lankford will always be remembered as a compassionate man. There was no challenge too great and no problem that couldn’t be thoughtfully considered and solved. His outlook on life serves as an inspiration to all who encountered his gentle and humble disposition. Among his countless undertakings as a creative soul and craftsman. Lankford is also known as a builder of friendships and classic wooden sailboats. He and Helen, his beloved wife, of 26 years, logged thousands of miles across the Southeast, attending, entering and, more often than not, winning wooden boat shows.
The duo, known as Pappy and Granny by their 15 grandchildren, opened the doors to their lake house in Pell City for holidays and many impromptu gatherings. Their 4th of July celebrations were things of legend and every trip to the lake was a passport to adventure as each child learned and laughed. His is a story of unbridled curiosity and a creative will that broke the bounds of fear and pushed the horizons of his own imagination.
Lankford is survived by his wife of 26 years Helen; his daughters Jamie Chappel (Mark), Janet Moran (John), sons John Lankford (Laura), Paul Hill (Regina) and John Hill (Michelle); 15 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
There will be a visitation Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Jefferson Memorial Gardens in Trussville. The celebration service will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 22nd at First Baptist Church Trussville with visitation from 10-11 a.m.