William Nightingale

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William Nightingale

1928 - 2010

William H. Nightingale died in Seattle at the age of 81 on April 28, 2010. His beloved wife of 28 years, Mary, who he met at his 30th college reunion, preceded him in death on Oct. 4, 2009.


Bill was born in Walla Walla to Helen Coston and Edwin Nightingale in 1928. He graduated from Wa-Hi in 1946, where he was a member of the Blue Devils track team, and then from Whitman College in 1951, where he majored in mathematics and physics and was a member of the Fighting Missionaries tennis team and Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

Bill then served as a lieutenant in the Coast Guard from 1951 to 1954, stationed on the buoy tender Mallow in Astoria, Oregon. In that capacity, he set buoys over the bar near Ilwaco and, on occasion, in Lake Washington for the Seafair hydroplane races. Hs hearing was severely damaged when a cannon was fired next to his unprotected ears.

Bill was later blinded in a farm-related accident near Dayton,at age 27, while attempting to repair an ammonia tank. He subsequently learned Braille and began using a guide dog. Bill was accepted by the University of Chicago Law School along with his first wife, Pauline Corthell, and graduated in 1959. He joined the Washington State Bar Association in 1960. Bill initially practiced law in Seattle with his brother-in-law, Dan Corthell, in a 10 by 10 foot office at Fifth and Union. In one year, their firm profited $17. During that time, Bill, Dan, and a small group of other investors hatched a money-making scheme to build and rent mobile homes to tourists for the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle, at a location near Sick's Stadium in South Seattle. That, too, did not earn much money, though Bill, Dan, and the others learned a fair amount about plumbing and housekeeping.

Bill lived most of his life in Olympia where he worked for the state as an administrative law judge, first deciding appeals of Liquor Control Board and then Employment Security decisions. He spent many of his free hours fishing for salmon and travelling far to catch the Big One, including fishing each year in Alaska. Bill was a winner and loser of many Lions Club fishing derbies, and when not on the water, he built fishing rods and confounded those around him with new boat and outboard motor purchases-far too many to remember. Bill was also a great basketball fan and won the KIRO radio Super Sonics Nut of the Year in the mid-1970s.

Bill is survived by his daughter, Noel Nightingale, and son-in-law, Jim Peterson, and their children, Leila, Cosmo, and Dexter. He is survived by his stepchildren and their spouses, Michael and Patty Lockart, David and Linda Lockart, and Susan and John Greene, and their children, Breanne, Dan, Jason, Heather, Max, and Alex.

Bill is also survived by his brother, Richard and his wife, Joyce, and by his sister, Martha Sanders, and by his five nieces and a nephew.

Bill was a teller of many fish stories, but his actual life told a true story of a belief in people of all stripes, of humor, and of resilience.

Remembrances may be made to the institution that fed Bill's mind and spirit, Whitman College, 345 Boyer Avenue, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

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