Vietnam War Hero, Beloved Navarre Icon Bill Pullum Leaves Lasting Legacy

Posted on June 16, 2021 by Romi White

The Navarre community was brought to its knees this week with news that Bill Pullum passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday, June 13.

The seemingly larger-than-life man left an indelible mark on Santa Rosa County during his 73 years, creating profound, positive changes which have already impacted multiple generations.

William A. “Bill” Pullum was born in Miami, Florida on July 2, 1947 to E.H. and Betty Pullum. He graduated from Miami Palmetto High School in 1965 and attended college at St. Johns River State College and Miami Dade College.

He voluntarily joined the United States Army in 1967 to serve his country, graduating from U.S. Army Helicopter Flight School in March of 1968. He went on to become a highly decorated Army helicopter pilot, receiving the Silver Star, Bronze Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses for his service in Vietnam.

Bill was honorably discharged from the Army in 1970 and relocated to Navarre to join his family.

While cutting grass in a local residential area, he met the love of his life, Martha Pullum. They were soon married on September 25, 1971 and blessed with two children: a son, Bart Pullum, and a daughter, Paula Stuckey.

During that time, while taking care of and providing for his two children, he was busy at work, devoting himself to the development and prosperity of the Navarre community.

“He thought of Navarre as a third child and worked hard to bring it up appropriately,” said Bart.

Subsequently, Bill founded and was involved in many great organizations across Northwest Florida, including but not limited to: the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Navarre Area Board of Realtors, Navarre Kiwanis, Navarre Optimist Club, Betty J. Pullum YMCA, Navarre Youth Sports Association, VFW Post 10479; American Legion and Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. He also served on the Board of Directors for Gulf Power Company and Whitney Bank.

Among his vast contributions to the community are the Betty J. Pullum YMCA, Holley-Navarre Seniors Center, DARE Program for Navarre Elementary Schools, Bill Pullum Sports Complex, Navarre Park (Nature Walk and Children’s Playground, Navarre Community Center, Boy Scouts of America, college scholarships for local students and countless other philanthropies.

Additionally, he received multiple awards for his community service, including NABOR’s Realtor of the Year, Community Service Award (three-time winner) and Rebecca Ann Evans Lifetime Achievement Award. He was awarded the Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year (two-time winner), President’s Award (two-time winner) and Legends Award by the Navarre Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. He was recognized as Citizen of the Year by Navarre Rotary Club and won the Director’s Award for Santa Rosa Clean Community System.

“Our organization joins the community in mourning the loss of revered former president Bill Pullum.  As one of the founding members of the Navarre Area Board of Realtors, he championed fledgling Navarre’s best interests with advocacy and unwavering leadership,” said NABOR Executive Angela Campbell. “His efforts ensured Navarre grew into a well-rounded community with the amenities necessary to support the newly developing subdivisions. There is a barely a facet of Navarre life that the Pullum family has not touched.”

Al Smith, owner of Alphy’s Catfish House, who worked as General Manager of Pullum’s steakhouse, Cowboys, also fondly remembers him.

“Bill had a vision for Navarre. He didn’t just talk about it, he acted. He saw a need for a restaurant, motel, conference center, ball fields, YMCA and many other projects to try to bring a better way of life to Navarre,” said Smith. “He was a good friend and always treated me like a brother. He will be missed.”

For fun, Bill loved flying helicopters, hunting, Miami Dolphins football, Alabama Crimson Tide football, Los Angeles Dodgers baseball and traveling with family & friends, especially to the island of Guanaja, Honduras, where he was instrumental in missionary work and the development of Clark Cay.

Over the course of their nearly 50 years of marriage, Bill & Martha were also blessed with three grandchildren: Corbin Stuckey, Hayley Pullum and Hunter Pullum.

“Our family has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of condolences and sympathy,” Bart said. “We want to express our sincerest thanks to the Navarre community for loving Bill as they do.”

A celebration of life is planned for August and will be announced in the near future.