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. at the Mount Olympus Stake Center, 4176 South Adonis Dr., Salt Lake City, Utah. His body will be interred at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.
Those who would like to join via Zoom, you may do so by clicking the "Watch Services" button above. A free Zoom account is required to do so. Online condolences may be offered at www.larkincares.com.
Dear Entire Nixon Family,
This is Jonathan Groberg Neeley. I am the youngest son of Maude Elizabeth Groberg Neeley. On behalf of all of my brothers and sisters, we express to you our sincerest and heartfelt condolences at the passing of Bill.
Oh, how our Neeley family loves the Nixon Family! During all of our growing up years, we remember conversation after conversation, and visit after visit to Aunt Opal and Uncle Niall’s. My mother, Maude, talked of her 1st cousin Opal frequently and with the greatest of affection. It was only natural that all of the Neeley children felt the same towards Aunt Opal and Uncle Noall. Consequently, all of Opal and Noall’s children (our full second cousins) have been on our list of very special people.
I remember well all of my older brothers and sisters [Lenore Cornwall (Shirl), Joanne Buehner (Walt), Marilyn Knudson (Ellsworth), Kenneth Neeley (Nola), Susan Egli (David), Christine Mix (Jeffrey), David Neeley (Karen), and myself Jonathan Neeley (Lynnette)] talking about the Nixon’s with such love and appreciation. We were all so excited when our mother announced a trip we would be talking that included a visit to the Nixon’s, whether it be in Utah, Idaho, or especially at Macks Inn. Personally, some of my most special memories as a young boy include visiting Aunt Opal and Uncle Noall at their cabin at Macks.
Additionally, I remember so well the tremendous heartbreak I felt in 1973 as a young returned missionary when hearing the news of the passing of Susan and her husband. There is still an empty place in my heart because of the love she showed to me as a second cousin during my growing up years. I will always be grateful.
At the time of this writing, my four oldest brothers and sisters have passed away. The four youngest children of Maude are doing well, although getting older every day (Christine in Gilbert, AZ, and Susan, David, and Jonathan in the Salt Lake/Provo Area).
And finally, the desire in the hearts of the Neeley’s to walk in the footsteps of the Brunt’s and the Nixon’s, Joanne and Walter, Kenneth and Nola, Christine and Jeffrey, David and Karen, and Jon and Lynnette each have cabins at Macks Inn.
Please know how much we love the Nixon family. Please know what a wonderful influence you have been throughout all of our lives. And please know of our sincere sympathy which we share with you at this time of the passing of Bill.
What a glorious occasion it will be in the coming day when we will be able to yet again enjoy a tremendous Nixon/Neeley Family reunion with Opal and Noall, Maude and Kenneth, and all of our second cousins. We love you!
So sorry for your loss I will always love you all Carol thank you for showing me real love
Bill and I were blessed to be cousins. I have admired Bill and his determination to reach his goals. He and Carol have reared a beautiful family. I send my love to all of them and know he will be nearby them to continue to love and protect them.
Love and admire my cousin Bill in every way. The goodness of his life stands out and his light continues to reflect the light of Christ and will for many generations.
CAROL - SO SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS AND A GREAT LIFE PARTNER. I DID NOT KNOW HIM, BUT FROM THE SUMMARY, HE WAS A VERY ACCOMPLISHED MAN. MAY YOU FIND STRENGTH AND PEACE IN THE DAYS AHEAD.......................JOHN KINGSLEY , COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT, ENERGY OFFICE.
Dear Carol and family- I was so sorry to hear about Bill's passing. I genuinely loved Bill. He was a great and loyal friend. He was a legend in the United States Attorney's Office, and beloved by all of us, as well as those at the Federal District Court. I was always proud to call him my friend, and I was especially proud to be able to say I was the one who hired Bill! He was a fine lawyer and judge, but more importantly he was an outstanding person in every way. He was a friend to all. I knew I could always count on Bill regardless of the task I assigned to him. I was especially pleased to find out years ago that Carol's parents had been such good friends of my parents. It is a connection that will always link our families. Please know of our love for you at this tender time. You are in our thoughts and Prayers. With much love, Paul Warner
We have lost one of the best dudes on planet earth! I have had the privilege of working with Bill at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Immigration Court can can attest to his immense goodness, intellect, wonderful humor, kindness and decency. I count the opportunity to work alongside him as one of the best gifts of my life. Myself, Tara and my children are heartbroken to learn of his passing, but the memories are golden, fresh and everlasting. Thank you, Bill, for being the wonderful person that you are.
Dear Carol and Family:
I love Bill.
Please accept my humble offer of condolences for the loss of your husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. My faith shows me that your separation is only temporary, yet I am deeply aware of what it means to lose the companionship, leadership, and cherished love of such a great and good husband and family man.
I’m grateful for the friendship Bill and I developed as colleagues at the Salt Lake City Immigration Court. I count it a lovely blessing to have known both Bill and Carol. You are both such extraordinarily gracious, kind, and wonderful people, and I have greatly enjoyed and loved your combined influence in my life. Bill and Carol, you both have lived in such harmony with each other that I find it completely impossible to write about one of you without referring to the other.
Carol and family, I know in my heart that Bill is now warmly and lovingly received in the spirit realm by the Lord and all of those on the other side of the veil who know and love him. Both Tamara and I send our love and warmest regards.
Dear Carol and Family: It is with great regret that we are out-of-State and cannot be with you at this tender time of Bill's passing. Please know of our great love for you all. Bill is and was one of the "noble and great ones," and we were lifted and blessed to know him.
I was touched to learn of the wonderful scriptural "touchstone" for life's decision making etched on his gavel from the O.T.--one of my favorites. To love "do justly" and "love mercy" seem to summarize Bill's life--he could always be counted to be on the "Lord's side."
In a small way, we share your loss. Please know of our love and our prayers for your comfort and solace (in God's grace) as you remember a great life he shared with you all. Love ya, Roger & Karen Cutler