OBITUARY: William ‘Bill’ Edward Lakey


William “Bill” Edward Lakey, 86, a resident of Columbia, passed away on Monday, May 13, 2024, after an extended illness.

Bill was born on March 11, 1938, to the late William Harmon Lakey and Bertie Robertson Harper, and was the stepson of the late Granville Harper, all natives of middle Tennessee. Bill was born in Collinwood, TN, but moved to Columbia as a young boy and graduated from Columbia Central High in 1956.

He met his late wife, Jean Jewell Lakey as a young man in Columbia and they enjoyed an especially close marriage. She predeceased him in January 2002 in Nashville, after which he returned to Columbia where he lived for the remainder of his life. His brother, Robert Lee Lakey, predeceased him in 2022. He was very fortunate to have a special friend, Mary Eleanor (Dooley) Morrow of Columbia, who was his loving companion for the last two decades of his life.

In addition to Mary Eleanor, survivors include his four sons, William Michael Lakey of Memphis, Malcolm Douglas Lakey (Patrick Bevill) of Washington, D.C., Bryan Edward Lakey (Melissa) of Alexandria, VA, and Jonathan Paul Lakey (Kimberly Grigsby) of Memphis; six grandchildren, Drew Edward Lakey, Abigail Olivia Lakey, Joshua Miles Lakey, Jackson Paul Lakey, Samuel Finn Lakey, and Quinn Alexander Lakey; sister-in-law, Anne Jewell Cheatham; and brother-in-law, Malcolm Folk Jewell, Jr.

Bill was a man of his time and place, and Columbia was always “home” to him and his family. But Bill joined the US Army after graduating from Vanderbilt University in 1961, so he raised his growing family at army posts around the country from California to Virginia. They moved to Alaska (Ft. Richardson) in late 1963, right before the biggest earthquake to ever hit the North American continent. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam where he was awarded two Bronze stars for valor and meritorious achievement. Bill retired from the Army as a Lt. Colonel in 1982, and he and Jean moved back to Nashville, Tennessee until her passing.

Bill maintained a wide network of friends, ranging from his classmates at Central High (where he was senior class president and part of the state championship football team) and Vanderbilt University, to many colleagues and officers from his different postings in the US Army. Over the years, he grew to love attending various reunions of his classmates and colleagues from different parts of his life.

But his biggest passion was his family, both the one he was born into and the one he created with Jean, his high school sweetheart. They always took great pride in their sons and their grandchildren, and he loved the chance he got to coach his boys over the years in baseball and other sports. In his later years, he spent a lot of time researching and documenting his family’s histories. It was part of his lifelong love of history in general, and history of the South in particular.

A memorial service will be conducted Friday, May 17, 2024, at 3:00 PM at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Reverend Tony Brown officiating. The family will visit with friends on Friday from 2:00 PM until the service begins. His family will then host an open house for friends and family after the services at Bill’s home (3001 Sheddan Drive, Columbia) from 4:00 to 6:00.

Memorials may be made to Bigbyville United Methodist Church, 3894 Bigbyville Road, Columbia, TN 38401, or to the American Cancer Society. Online condolences may be extended at


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