William Watson Lavigno III, 74, of Lilburn, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.

Bill was born on May 5, 1947, in Augusta to William and Virginia Lavigno. After graduating from Thomson High School, Bill enrolled at the University of Georgia. He received both his Bachelor of Business Administration and his Juris Doctor degrees. It is there at the treasured alma mater that he met and married his college sweetheart of six years, Jessica. He entered practice in 1972 focusing on criminal defense, child custody litigation and personal injury cases. His compassion for youth led him to accept the position of Juvenile Court judge for Rockdale County in 1979, and he served until 1996.

Community involvement included serving on the Board of Directors of Rockdale Community Bank until its merger with Regions in 1996. He supported local charities such as the Miracle League of Rockdale County and Project ReNeWal and participated in the Pro Bono Project with the State Bar of Georgia, providing representation to indigent citizens. He was a member of the State Bar of Georgia, Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Georgia Trial Lawyers Association and the Rockdale County Bar Association.

Bill had an accomplished professional career, but his daughter and son were the true loves of his life. Even before starting his own family, Bill coached Little League boys in both basketball and baseball. This also meant his children would become athletes for he believed in the disciplines of structure, focus and perseverance. When his daughter, Bethany, settled on swimming, he became certified as a lane judge. He felt that gave him the latitude of supplementing her coaching. This was much to the concern of both the swimmer and her coach, but that was his intent — always the coach. When Bethany decided to leave her swimming scholarship mid-semester, there was never anything but support. After all — she was returning home but more importantly, she was returning to God’s Country and the University of Georgia. Bill coached and mentored his son, Watson, in football, basketball, and baseball. He would not touch soccer. When Watson settled on baseball exclusively, Bill was ecstatic. That was his joy in high school. Watson spent several years beyond what his sister’s tenure had been at Georgia, but each child marched to a different drum. Bill’s response upon Watson’s graduation from, again, his treasured alma mater — “Son, most people who spend that long in school would have ‘Doctor’ in front of their name.” He never wavered in his pride and support and enjoyed every minute of their lives. When each left the sports arena, Bill probably suffered more withdrawal effects than his children.

Bill’s additional therapy was playing golf with his friends and spending time on the family farm in McDuffie County, Georgia. He was a force in his professional career, and a competitor even in the gentle sport of golf. He is respected and loved by all and creates a void that cannot be filled. He will be sorely missed by those who were fortunate enough to have known him.

Bill is survived by his wife, Jessica; his devoted children, Bethany (Zachary) and William “Watson” Lavigno IV (Shima); and his treasured grandson, William Watson Lavigno V.

Funeral services for William Watson Lavigno III are to be held on Sunday, Nov. 21, at Dearing United Methodist Church, 161 Church St. Dearing, GA 30808.

The family will receive guests at 1 p.m. with the funeral service beginning at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that memorial donations honoring Bill should be sent to Dearing United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 187, Dearing, GA 30808.

Arrangements made by Phoenix Funeral Services Inc., Conyers. Online: www.phoenixfuneralservicesinc.com.

The Walton Tribune | Wednesday, November 17, 2021