William N. "Mr. Bill" Spence 1910-2002
WILLIAM N. "Mr. Bill" SPENCE, 92, of Piperton , retired entrepreneur and well known for his contributions to the equestrian community, died at the Collierville Health and Rehabilitation Center Friday, Feb 8, 2002. He was born Jan 18, 1910 in Crockett County Tennessee, where he lived on his family farm before moving to Memphis in 1947 and became a Livestock Commission Merchant, both at the old South and North Memphis Stockyards. His great love was horses and in 1952 he founded Graceland Farms Saddle Club on the section of land called Graceland, which Elvis Presley later bought the main house that is still a Memphis landmark and tourist attraction. He sold Elvis many horses and allowed him to use the Timothy Street entrance so that he could avoid his many fans at his front gate. Mr. Bill coined the phrase "Taking Care of Business", which Elvis picked up on and it became his well known slogan "TCB". He was especially proud of his "kids" that he taught to care for, ride and show horses and more important to him "to stay out of trouble". Some credit him and his late wife of 67 years, Madelyn "Mother Bill" with teaching and instilling in their children the ethical and moral values of life as did many of the schools and day care centers in the area. As an announcer of horse shows, one of his favorite sayings was "Folks we apologize for the dust, but had'NT you rather watch them ride through the dust, than to watch them through tears at the Juvenille Court." He was one of the founders of the Southern Amateur Saddle Clubs Association (SASCA) and remained on the Board of Directors until his retirement. He was also one of the original members to serve on the Shelby Farms Advisory Board. Last year he was honored by both the Mayor's of Fayette and Shelby Counties for his contributions to the area's Equestrian Community. A Proclamation was issued declaring April 28, 2001 as "W.N. "Mr. Bill" Spence Day. The Fayette County Mayor, The Honorable James Voss prides himself to be a Graceland Farms Alumni. "Mr. Bill" has received many more plaques, trophies and awards for his many services to the community. He leaves three sons, Bill J. Spence of Collierville, Maxey "Bubba" C. Spence of Fisherville, and Wayne W. Spence of Senatobia, MS. He also leaves 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Also surviving him are his sisters, Olive S. Hendren of Cordova, TN, Mary Hess SoRelle of Thermopolis, Wy, Sidney S. Meese of Friendship, TN and his brother, Jamye L. Spence of Friendship, TN. The family requests that any memorials be sent to the Collierville Alzheimer's Center or the St. Jude Children's Hospital.
FUNERAL services were held at Memphis Funeral Home on Germantown Road in Bartlett on Monday January 11th.
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