With a final whisper to his loving wife of 64 years, William Lynn Nixon promised, “I’ll come back for you,” and then the lessons he taught in mortality came to an end as the two were attended by their children at the University of Utah Hospital, May 20, 2022. Bill was 87 years old — born September 13, 1934, in Idaho Falls, Idaho — and among his countless lessons that will influence eternity through six married children and a posterity of more than 80 is a life-abiding faith in Heavenly Father, our Savior Jesus Christ, and living with the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. These attributes were constant and directed him as a young man to serve full-time for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Great Lakes Mission. There, he proclaimed the restoration of the Gospel and the promise that families are forever.
His lessons taught about love and covenant relationships and were exemplified in a life-long courtship of Carol Joy Holladay, a beautiful young woman he had rescued from the Snake River in Island Park, Idaho, after her canoe had become caught in the current and was moving towards the rapids below. Bill waded out, pulled her safely to shore, and the two met again, later that night, at a resort dance. They eventually fell in love. Carol finished high school and waited two years while he served his mission, and then they sealed their love in the Salt Lake Temple, September 9, 1957.
Seldom without a book in his hands and a stack on the nightstand, Bill also inspired those around him to devote their lives to learning. He was a scriptorian and the first in his family to graduate college, leaving Brigham Young University with degrees in political science and English. He studied law at George Washington University, where he earned a juris doctorate in 1962, and was admitted to practice law in Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and before the United States Supreme Court.
In 1963, Bill and Carol returned to Idaho Falls, where he was admitted to the Idaho Bar and joined the firm of Albaugh, Bloem, Smith and Pike. He also served as the Prosecuting Attorney for Clark County, Idaho, and continued his church service as Mission President of the Ammon Idaho Stake. Theirs was the quintessential small-city life, Sunday dinners with parents — Noall and Opal Nixon and Jack and Regina Holladay — summers on the river at Mack’s Inn and adventures through Yellowstone, Montana, and Wyoming. In 1969, Bill entered the business world, co-founding a domestic petroleum exploration and energy development company in Salt Lake City. Later that year, he convinced his dear friend and former mission companion, Orrin G. Hatch, to leave Pennsylvania for Utah and join the company as its general counsel.
His years in business were filled with lessons about risk-taking, perseverance, patience, and keeping a balance between faith, family, and the necessities of life. Stresses and setbacks were answered with hope and hard work. Adversities were seen for the blessings they brought, and successes were embraced with gratitude and humility. In all, he served as President and CEO of American Minerals, the Triax Corporation, and ProWedge, Inc. For pleasure, Bill and Carol traveled often and taught their family to ski and golf, both of which became lifelong passions.
Bill also taught his family about the importance of priorities, the quest for discipleship, and a love for America. In 1999, he returned to law and public service as an Assistant United States Attorney, and in 2005, he was appointed as a federal judge in the Executive Office for Immigration Review, where he oversaw the opening of Utah’s first full-time immigration court. He cherished the Constitution and applied the law with judicial temperament, often stating that he viewed each individual before his bench as a brother or sister and a child of God. Bill was also asked to serve as an Article III judge on the United States Court of International Trade, which would require a move to New York City, but putting faith first he declined the honor to accept a calling he had received simultaneously to serve as Bishop of the Mount Olympus Ward of the Mount Olympus Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A fitting epitaph for his life was inscribed on the golden band that adorned the head of his courtroom gavel: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Micah 6:8)
Bill is survived by his wife, Carol Joy Holladay Nixon and his children: William Holladay and Tammy Nixon; Joan Diane and William N. Turley; Michael Lynn and Carla (Cornaby) Nixon; Jennifer Lynn and Dr. Lanny Campbell; Jaci Carol and Lynn LeCheminant; and John Earl and DeAnn (DeForest) Nixon. He is also survived by his brother Robert Brunt Nixon, sister Claranne Garrett Duke, and sisters-in-law Joan Robison, Donna Stosich, and Barbara Holladay. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Jack Nixon, sister Susan Nixon Staker, brother-in law Wayne Holladay, and great grandson Benjamin Jerry Bowcut.
Funeral services for William Lynn Nixon will be held 11:00 a.m., Friday, June 3, 2022, at the Mount Olympus Stake Center, 4176 South Adonis Dr., Salt Lake City, Utah. Public viewings will be held Thursday, June 2, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Lawn Mortuary, 2350 East 1300 South and Friday, June 3, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. His body will be interred at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park. Online condolences may be offered at www.larkincares.com.
Carol, I am so sorry for your loss. I was so impressed by Bill's kindness, compassion, and service. Love to you and yours. Kerry