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Bill Sledge Passes Away At 81

Longtime American Saddlebred owner, breeder and horse show father Bill Sledge died Wednesday, December 24 of cancer at Baptist Hospital in Memphis. A figure larger than life, Sledge served in leadership positions in every area of his life, including as president of the Germantown Charity Horse Show for many years. But "his primary and first love was his family," daughter Phillipa Sledge was quoted as saying in the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Sledge obtained his law degree from the University of Tennessee, and later served as senior vice president for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company for forty years. Sledge was a World War II Army veteran, and taught himself to speak French fluently. He also served as president of the MidSouth chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and was instrumental in the creation of the Philip D. Pidgeon Multiple Sclerosis Research Center at the University of Tennessee, named in honor of his father-in-law.

Sledge was also a self-taught musician. He played the piano every day and would sit in with local jazz bands until his last days. He once guest-conducted the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

Sledge leaves his wife Mary Jane Pidgeon Sledge, two daughters Phillipa and Nell Sledge Puls of St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., and a granddaughter.

Mass will be said at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 27 at St. Anne Catholic Church in Memphis. Burial will be in Forest Hill Cemetary. The family requested in the Commercial Appeal that memorials be sent to the University of Tennessee Health Science Center/Philip Pidgeon Multiple Sclerosis Research Center.

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