William Hereford Jr.

Obituary of William Ernest Hereford Jr.

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William Ernest “Bill” Hereford Jr. of Pell City, 84, died April 12, 2024. Call him a driving force, a catalyst, or a bulldozer, no matter the moniker, Bill had the power, the strength, and the heart to get things done. He was a U.S. Marine veteran, a lawyer, a judge, a mayor, a civic leader, a savvy businessman, a loving father, husband, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend, and he handled each role with a fierce passion. You would most likely find him at the heart of good works throughout his community and around the state. In civic life, he was a charter member and former president of Pell City Rotary Club, a director of Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, a recognized leader in Three Rivers Boy Scouts Council, and a graduate of Leadership St. Clair County and Leadership Alabama. He served in various capacities with the American Legion, Jefferson State Community College Advisory Board and the college’s foundation board, O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center Advisory Board, and Alabama Care Plan Citizens' Advisory Committee. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Pell City. He led the community capital campaign that helped build the Pell City Center for Education and the Performing Arts. He provided ‘seed’ funding for the Museum of Pell City and once it opened, he volunteered as a docent. As chairman of the board for Lakeside Hospice, he led its resurgence. He successfully advocated for a Social Services Center in Pell City so agencies that helped those in need could operate from the same location, making those services convenient and accessible. Bill served as chairman of Brownell Travel, chairman of St. Clair County Head Start, chairman of St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital Advisory Board, and president of the St. Clair County Bar Association. He has served on the boards of the Cultural Alliance, Literacy Council of Central Alabama, the Alabama Board of Bar Commissioners, and was president of the St. Clair Red Elephant Club. In 2012, he received the Man of Valor Award from the YWCA of Central Alabama for his work on behalf of domestic violence victims. He was a member of the Hugo Black Memorial Library Board of Directors, which was special to him because the U.S. Supreme Court justice was a hero of his. Bill grew up in Birmingham’s eastern section, graduated from Woodlawn High School, and continued to support the school throughout his life. After high school, he attended South Georgia College and was a manager for the football team coached by Bobby Bowden. He enlisted and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. After his service, he earned his undergraduate degree from The University of Alabama and lettered on the swim team. He graduated from The University of Alabama School of Law in 1970 and first went to work for former Alabama Governor Albert Brewer as field director. Bill opened the law office of Gaines & Hereford in Pell City with Talladega lawyer Ralph Gaines as a partner in the 1970s. He later founded the firm of Hereford, Blair & Holladay with partners Dwight Blair and Hugh Holladay. Always the trailblazer, he hired the first female attorneys in St. Clair County – Elizabeth Parsons and Jo Beth Murphree. Parsons would become a partner in the firm, and Murphree became assistant district attorney of Mobile County. From 1991 until 2005, he served as presiding circuit judge of the Thirtieth Judicial Circuit of Alabama. He was first appointed to the bench by former Gov. Guy Hunt and won subsequent elections. After retirement, he served as senior circuit judge in the Unified Judicial System of Alabama and heard cases around the state by appointment of the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. During his time on the bench, he led the unprecedented move to employ technological advances in the court system, such as arraignment hearings by video camera, a forerunner to Zoom video conferencing. It streamlined the process and saved money by not requiring prisoners to be escorted or transported from jail to court. After ‘retirement,’ he served as mayor of Pell City from 2008-2012, a period of significant growth for the city. As mayor, he cut the ribbon on Ascension St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital and Col. Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home. A friend to many, especially a close circle he considered “family,” he would always sign his correspondence to them as “Your Pal, Billy.” And in keeping with his servant’s heart philosophy, these words appeared underneath: “If not us, who? If not now, when?” He was preceded in death by his parents, William Ernest Hereford Sr. and Christine Whittle Hereford, and sister, Janice Hereford Reaves. He is survived by his wife, Paula Duncan Hereford of Pell City; his daughter, Gibson Hereford Ellison, Atlanta; son, William E. “Trip” (Amanda) Hereford III, Nashville, Tenn.; granddaughters, Katherine Ellison and Margaret Hereford; sister, Sue Hereford Ingram of Chelsea; sister-in-law, Potsy Duncan (Craig) Fine of Atlanta; beloved cousins, nieces, nephews and extended family. A graveside service will be held at Valley Hill Cemetery April 20 at 11 a.m. Usrey Funeral Home will direct.
A Memorial Tree was planted for William
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Usrey Funeral Home
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William Hereford Jr.

In Loving Memory

William Hereford Jr.

1939 - 2024

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