Obituary for William "Billy" Symmes Jr.
William Symmes, well loved by his family and many friends, died on July 3, 2017. His death was sudden and unexpected, making acceptance more difficult for those he left behind. Billy always loved cars, trucks, motorcycles, motorboats, airplanes: anything with a motor to make it go. He spent hours at Peter O’Knight Airport watching the planes come and go. As soon as he was old enough, he persuaded his mother to finance flying lessons. This led to his being hired as a pilot for Eastern Airlines, where he made his career, advancing to the rank of Captain. He often expressed his delight that he was being paid to do something that he enjoyed so much. Labor unrest at Eastern Airlines in the 1980’s and the heavy handedness of new owner Frank Lorenzo led to a lockout of Eastern’s mechanics and ramp service employees, and the pilots and flight attendents responded by calling a sympathy strike. Billy was among the many pilots who honored the strike. He and many other Eastern pilots displaced by the strike found a new home at Kiwi International Airlines, where they exchanged their help and capital for employment. Billy flew for Kiwi until his retirement. No longer employed as a pilot, he continued to fly, as owner of one small plane after another. Billy had many other enthusiasms. He loved classical music, and was very knowledgeable about composers and their works. He was also an avid reader and had compiled an extensive collection of fiction books. Billy is survived by a sister, Harriett Wright, a niece, Stephanie Clark, cousin Lew Symmes, and many other cousins. There will be a visitation for family and close friends on Friday July 14, 2017, 9:30 to 10:30 am at Adams & Jennings Funeral Home, located at 6900 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa 33604. Followed by a graveside service at 11:00 am at Garden of Memories Cemetery, 4207 E. Lake Ave., Tampa 33610. A gathering to celebrate Billy's life will be held at a later date, details to follow.