William D. Hart III

Published 3:30 pm Tuesday, June 6, 2023

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William (Bill) Dunham Hart III of Fairhope, and Whitefish, Mont., passed away unexpectedly in New Orleans, La., on May 17, 2023.


He was there to begin his return trip to Montana for the summer and fall seasons.

Bill was born in Montgomery in 1942 to William Dunham Hart Jr., and Katherine Watt Hart. He graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1960, where he played football and baseball. His senior year he was elected to the Alabama All Star Baseball Team. Bill was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at Auburn University from which he graduated in 1964. After completing training at Quantico, Va., Bill proudly served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

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Bill began his career in banking in Jackson. He moved to Atmore, where he married Mary Beth Findley in 1969. He was president-elect of the Alabama Young Bankers Association when he moved his family to Montezuma, Ga. Bill’s career took him to several other communities including Americus and Milledgeville, Ga., and to Shelbyville, Tenn. The first two things he did after every move were joining the Methodist church and registering to vote. Wherever he lived, Bill was active in the Methodist church. Bill was a Rotarian, serving as president twice and he was a Paul Harris Fellow.

Bill was a natural athlete and began long distance running when he lived in Georgia. He ran the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta several times. He enjoyed playing golf, although he said that golf was primarily a time to be with his friends

Bill had many loves. He loved reading, particularly military history and biographies; he believed libraries were special places. Bill had a deep love for animals. He loved riding horses with his daughters and having that time alone with each of them. He loved the companionship of his hunting dogs during seven decades of autumn days. However, the dog that held the biggest place in his heart was his last dog, a Shih Tzu named Missy.

Bill was blessed to be able to retire early and he chose two wonderful places to live during the last 25 years of his life. He enjoyed winters with friends in Fairhope and when the weather began to get warmer, he went to his beloved Trails End Ranch, near Whitefish, and his friends there. A lifelong outdoorsman, Bill continued to hunt and fish in Montana. There, he developed a love of pack trips on horseback into the high country of Glacier National Park. His favorite place to spend several days fly fishing with friends was in the clear water of Elizabeth Lake.

Bill was a noble, gentle, kind and generous man who treasured his many, many friends. He often thanked God for the new, dear friends, which He sent him during the later years of his life. Bill was a Christian, a Marine and a patriot.

Bill loved spending time with his sister in law, Julie Findley Reilly, and her husband, Mike Reilly. He had six nieces and nephews: Matt, Amanda, Mary, Hugh, Lauren and Robert. Bill was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Katherine Hart Rainey; and his son in law, David Lee Dixon.

Bill was a loving husband, father and GrandBear. He cherished his wife, Beth, his daughters, Julie (Jeff) Manning of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Caroline Dixon of San Francisco, Calif. and Whitefish, Montana. With his grandchildren, Will and Josh Manning and Henry and Layla Grace Dixon, Bill discovered a new way to love.

Bill wanted to be cremated and his ashes will be interred at Chattanooga National Cemetery. His family suggests that you consider Wounded Warrior Project if you want to make a charitable contribution in memory of Bill.