His work includes the Marietta and Cobb County police buildings, the Cobb Public Safety & Judicial Buildings, the Civic Center, the Cobb-Marietta Salvation Army Headquarters, the Cobb Marietta YMCA, the original museum for “The General” train in Kennesaw, the Marietta Daily Journal office and many public schools and churches.
Tapp’s only child, Helen Tapp Montgomery of Atlanta, said while some girls played with dolls, she recalls playing on the construction site of what is now Southern Polytechnic State University, one of his firm’s first big projects.
Tapp enjoyed tackling a wide-ranging variety of assignments rather than specializing in a particular design, she said.
“He told me, ‘I’m interested in each one being different,’” Montgomery said.
Tapp saw some of his buildings come down, such as the former Federal Savings & Loan off Marietta Square, which the county replaced with a parking deck.
“It made him sad,” Montgomery said. “In a growing community, that’s the way things happen, but that was sad for him to see his buildings go down because they were very much a part of him.”
Mayor Steve “Thunder” Tumlin said Tapp’s signature is evident on the buildings.
“You could tell a Bill Tapp building,” Tumlin said.
The mayor described him as “the Southern gentlemen type” who was always well-dressed with a kind word for others.
“He was a class act,” Tumlin said. “Marietta was truly blessed to have had him so long, and we’ll truly miss him.”
To David Savini of Social Circle, best man in Tapp’s wedding to the late Frances Paine Tapp, he was “Willie Roy.”
“He was one of those lovable buddies you had, just like a brother,” Savini said. “He was a guy you really loved to be with all the time. Nothing was ever wrong with Willie Roy. I loved that guy.”
Over at Tommy’s Sandwich Shop on the Square, Tommy Smith called him “Billy Bob” and named Tapp’s usual selection, chicken salad, after him.
Sam Anderson of Smyrna said he and Tapp had been attending the Marietta Civitan’s Club since the 1960s.
“We attended the club on a pretty regular basis,” Anderson said. “He was always in a good mood, personable. I think he enjoyed life.”
KSU President Emeritus Dr. Betty Siegel said when she first came to Marietta in 1981, she was told it wasn’t money or old families that made a difference, but rather what people give back to the community.
“Bill is like that. He gave so much back to the community,” Siegel said. “He was always a pillar of community service, and aside from that he was unfailingly good-humored. There was a wonderful impish quality about him of good humor and not taking himself so seriously but taking other people very seriously indeed.”
Neighbor Bo Glover said he would be missed.
“I’ve never known a sweeter more considerate man,” Glover said. “A very fine Southern gentlemen, and the best thing about him, he knew the Lord and was a Christian.”
Tapp was born in Powder Springs to William R. Tapp, Sr., a writer and real estate agent and namesake of Tapp Middle School in Powder Springs.
After graduating from Georgia Tech, Tapp worked for Douglass Aircraft in Long Beach, Calif., as an engineering draftsman for World War II bombers. He also served in the Navy in the anti-submarine fleet on PC791, based under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
In addition to his 56 years with the Marietta Civitans, Tapp served more than four decades on the Cobb County advisory board of the Salvation Army and was appointed by Gov. Joe Frank Harris to the state Health Planning Review Board. He was also a supporter of the music program at Kennesaw State University, and loved to dance and listen to jazz.
Tapp was raised in First Baptist Church of Powder Springs, and since 1954 had been a faithful member of First Presbyterian Church of Marietta.
Following a graveside service for the family in Powder Springs, a memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. today at the First Presbyterian Church.
Memorials may be directed to the Salvation Army of Cobb County or the First Presbyterian Church.
Mayes Ward-Dobbins Funeral Home in Marietta is in charge of arrangements.