Cover photo for William Waldorf Laing's Obituary
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1927 William 2021

William Waldorf Laing

September 7, 1927 — July 29, 2021

William Waldorf Laing was born in Oaklyn, New Jersey on September 7th 1927. He died at his home in Horse Cave, Kentucky on Thursday the 29th of July 2021. He was surrounded by his family at the end of his life on Earth, his wife of 67 years Gloria, his son David and his daughter Sharon. These are the bare facts of the beginning and end of a mans life but tell you nothing of the quality of the man, his energy, focus, drive, passions and shear determination to make something of himself. To drink deeply of the cup of life.

It does not tell you that he was born into poverty, his father dying when he was 2 years old and growing up in foster homes and institutions for under privileged children until at the age of 17 he got his mothers permission to join the U.S.Navy while World War 2 was raging across the Earth. He served proudly and with distinction as a radio-electronics operator and gunner hunting U-boats over the Atlantic Ocean as part of a naval aviation anti-submarine squadron. Once the war was over he was so valued by his commander he was asked to continue his service which he did through the Korean War tracking Soviet submarines all over the world.

His fascination with the electronic equipment he operated on the aircraft led him to go to Virginia Polytechnic Institute to pursue a degree in Electrical Engineering. This man who did not finish high school, by his second year was assisting teaching advanced mathematics to other students.

With a wife and new born son (William Roderick "Rod" Laing) to support he did whatever he needed to do to provide for them. Electrolux vacuum salesman, Arthur Murray Dance Studio instructor etc all while remaining in the U.S.Naval Reserves, continuing to do his duty. With son number 2 (David) and daughter number 1 (Sharon) now on board, the opportunity of a lifetime came along. He joined RCA as an electrical engineer.

He worked at RCA on a variety of projects including the Minuteman missile program but the most exciting and intense project he was involved in was the development of the various communications systems for the Apollo manned missions to the moon. Our whole family was fascinated by the space race of the 1960s and 70s but Bill actually got to be a part of it and he was proud of having contributed to the NASA Apollo program and man's first steps on the Moon.

If you have ever met Bill, you know he was a very charismatic man. Warm and charming, he was soon tapped by his employer into sales for there are precious few people on this Earth who have deep technical knowledge and experience as well as natural charm and charisma. He was highly regarded as an electronic systems salesman and soon had large territories to cover. He climbed the ladder of success, moving from location to location, from one company to another as better opportunities presented themselves but he did not like being away from his family so much so he took the plunge and opened his own business following a passion of his that he had carried with him from his days in the Navy.

You see, when he was flying all over the world, ever present was his camera. He loved to take pictures. Endless cloud formations, frozen propellers in Labrador, the jungles of Central America, the ancient cities of Malta. So when he decided he wanted to open his own business, naturally it was a photographic lab. But not just any quick, cheep printer of vacation pics but a full service professional lab catering to the professional and semi professional alike. His photo lab gained such a high reputation for quality that among its clients were several top Hollywood special effects directors and several renown aviation and automotive photographers. Even police departments trusted him to develop their highly sensitive and confidential images. People would travel 50 miles to have their film developed and pictures printed and enlarged by his lab. High praise indeed.

But family was always his focus thus when his wife's parents became ill and needed around the clock care, they closed the lab and moved to Louisville to take care of them. Once his wife's parents had both passed away, they decided that they loved living here and went looking for some property and found their dream here in Horse Cave. They both loved living here with all manner of wildlife wandering through the yard, putting out Hummingbird feeders for the dozens of birds who came to call their house home for the summer. He loved walking his property with its wonderful towering trees and moss covered cave entrance. But his energy, drive, creativity and curiosity would not, could not be contained.

He enrolled at Western Kentucky University in Bowling over 65 years young! While there he received accolades for his trombone recitals, art projects and eventually a degree in theater arts which he immediately put to use as a set designer for the Horse Cave Theater, a nationally recognized and awarded stage production theater.

His time here in Horse Cave was a dream come true for him for the last 28 years and he loved it here. Thus, surrounded by his family who all loved, honored and respected him he passed away in peace having lived a life he could be proud of.

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