Bill was born on 22 January, 1941 in Centre, AL and died peacefully at his home, surrounded by his loved ones on 10 November, 2021. Bill and his wife of 57 years, the former Mary Rister, were married in Huntsville where they raised their family.
Bill was a man of widely varied interests and accomplishments, ranging from his extensive military career that spanned over thirty years, largely within the Special Forces Community, to his exceptional grasp of religious and world history, to his mastery of foreign languages. His unparalleled dedication to the State of Alabama and the United States was matched by his interest in – and support of - local organizations, always providing his own special brand of wit and wisdom. Starting in 1959 with his first formal radio training in the military, under the call sign of W4TLZ Bill was widely known and appreciated by his HAM radio colleagues for his competency, leadership and especially volunteer mentoring of amateur radio license applicants.
CW4 Bill Courtney's military service included eight years of Active Duty and 22 years of service with 20th Special Forces Group, Alabama National Guard. In the 1960’s, he served multiple tours in Viet Nam and served numerous training and operational deployments around the world including missions in Europe ranging from Spain, Portugal and Italy to Turkey and the First Gulf War – Operation DESERT STORM/DESERT SHIELD as well as Panama in the 1990’s. His many awards and decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal, multiple Army Commendation and Achievement Medals, Vietnam Campaign and Vietnam Service medals, Vietnamese Gallantry Cross, the Special Forces Tab, US Army and Italian Army Parachute Badges, Military Jump Master and Master Parachute Badge and numerous others. He had an innate grasp of the complexities of military logistics and was a master at ensuring that his troops always had the “bullets and beans" necessary to survive and prevail. Indeed, “Mr. Bill” personified the phrase “Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.”
The quiet generosity, talents and spirit that Bill brought to every aspect of his life – whether serving as a State Police Reserve Officer or just as a neighbor helping someone move into a new home – earned him the gratitude of untold numbers of his fellow citizens, and especially among his brotherhood of the Green Beret.
He was always driven by the sense of service and respect for others inculcated in him by his late parents, Clarence W. and Virginia Sue Courtney. His siblings Charles Valentine “Val" Courtney, Jimmy Courtney and a sister Cheryl (Caleb) predeceased him. He is survived his loving wife Mary, his sons Gary (Kris) and Joseph (Beth) both of Huntsville and a sister, Patty Courtney Adams of Oklahoma; and grandchildren Nicholas, Joshua (Chloe), Riley Parker Courtney, Savannah Corbett Courtney all of Huntsville; and numerous nieces and nephews - Kenny Rister (Cody) of California, Chris and Steven Seay of Oklahoma, Caleb (Brooke Richards) Courtney, and Charlie and Sarah Courtney of Centre, Alabama.
A celebration of Bill’s life will take place at Monte Sano State Park Lodge, 5105 Nolen Avenue SE – Huntsville, AL 35801 from 1300-1500, Monday, 29 November 2021. Food will be provided following the full military service. In lieu of flowers, Bill and his family request that donations in Bill's name be made to:
NA SFS Flower Fund, P.O. Box 4144, Huntsville, AL 35815-4144 ; 20th Special Forces Society, MG Henry H. Cobb Jr., Scholarship Fund, 3108 Crescent Circle, Huntsville, 35801; or, Chapter 92, Special Forces Association, 240County Line Road 1285 South Vinemont, AL 35179
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