William Allen (Bill) Briggs, 70, died suddenly Sunday, May 8, at approximately 4:00 a.m. at his home.
Bill was born June 26, 1951, to Dr. Robert William Briggs and Betty Cantrell Briggs in Nashville, Tennessee. He attended Battle Ground Academy, was a 1970 graduate of Two Rivers High School where he was a member of the track team, art club, and editor of the school newspaper. A proud member of the Army National Guard, he received an Honorable Discharge in 1976. After attending Cumberland University, he received a BA in Mass Communications and Television Production and Art from Western Kentucky University in 1975. He then attended the Harris School of Art in Franklin, Tennessee, and studied in Europe during his tenure there, considering it a “life-changing experience.” Later, he produced multimedia laser light shows at the Sudekum Planetarium. Working at Wright’s Gulf and restoring antique cars at Reece Thompson’s restoration shop fueled both his friendships and lifelong love of all things automotive was manifest on his art and his enduring fascination. He owned over fifty (50) cars during his lifetime.
Bill served as Assistant Art Director and scenic artist/set designer for The Nashville Network (TNN) for over 12 years where his work was featured on many television shows and specials including the Grand Ole Opry, sets of Hee Haw, Country Music Awards, Nashville Now, Fan Fair, Crook and Chase, ASCAP Awards videos, many commercials and Opryland/Grand Ole Opry special events. Upon leaving TNN, he launched Bill Briggs Art, specializing in murals, portraits and prints, with works displayed in residential and commercial settings including The Hard Rock Café, The Old Spaghetti Factory, Cole and Garrett Funeral Home, and Opryland Hotel. He served for several years as the artistic designer of the Miss Mississippi pageant and was honored to have been selected to paint an 84 foot mural of the Battle of Cowpens for the DreamWorks movie The Last Castle starring Robert Redford and James Gandolfini filmed in Nashville in 2011. He used his artistic talents to fuel his love of local history, as scenes in and around Nashville have become an enduring part of his legacy.
At TNN, Bill met Denise (Wyatt) who moved from Benton, Kentucky, to pursue her interior design career as she freelanced and assisted with set design there. They married June 20, 1986, in a small ceremony in the Chapel at Andrew Price Memorial Methodist Church in Nashville. While they had no children, they did parent several wonderful cats.
Bill and Denise spent leisure time driving backroads in the many cars they owned over the years, traveling and hanging out on their boat (“Steamboat Willie”) and rooting for the Tennessee Titans. Many special times were spent with lifelong friends David and Linda Boyd, Lee and Sandra Powers, Bill and Judy Sinz, and Rex and Ellen Thigpen at Dale Hollow Lake; and with Mark and Gina Edwards on their visits to Nashville from their Florida home.
Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Denise Wyatt Briggs and beloved cats Mars and Las Vegas of Mt. Juliet, TN; his (101-year old) mother, Betty Cantrell Briggs, and sister Linda (Larry) Bradshaw of Hermitage, TN; three nieces: Jenny (Mark) Pike, Kent, OH, Cathleen (Paul) Cross, Shelbyville, TN and Mendy Gentry, Nashville, TN; mother-in-law, Patricia Victorine “Vicki” Riley Wyatt, of Mt. Juliet, TN; sister-in-law Natalie Wyatt Sirota (Daryl) of Loveland, CO and children; several great-nieces and nephews as well as many loving cousins, friends and the close-knit Two Rivers Pirates Alumni gang.
Pre-deceasing him were his father, Dr. Robert William Briggs, grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jahugh Franklin (Lila Hovis) Briggs, Dr. and Mrs. Quim Claude (Mary Allen) Cantrell, father-in-law, Joe Carl Wyatt of Benton, KY as well as cats Truxton and Venus.
Services will be conducted with military honors detail Sunday, June 26 (his 71st birthday) in the Chapel where Bill and Denise were married. The site will be Connection United Methodist Church (formerly Andrew Price Memorial Methodist Church) 2846 Lebanon Pike, Nashville, TN 37214. Visitation begins at 2:30 p.m.; Memorial will follow at 4:00 p.m. with lifelong friend David Boyd officiating.
Honorary Pallbearers include David Boyd, Larry Bradshaw, Paul Cross, Mark Edwards, Doug Gentry (dec.), Michael Hite, Mike Kilian, Mark Pike, Lee Powers (dec.), George Ragland, Jr., Col. Lee Briggs Ragland (Ret.) U.S.M.C., Michael Sailor, Bill Sinz (dec.), Wayne Stephenson, Don Templeton (dec.), Greg Wells, Larry Wilson, Dustin Turnmyre, and the Two Rivers High School Class of 1970.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to The American Heart Association.
Please visit Bill’s website at www.briggsartstudio.com to view his wonderful artwork.
Nashville Funeral and Crematory is overseeing arrangements. www.nashvillefuneralandcremation.com.