William Henry Pugh, IV, a/k/a “The Grand High Tortuga,” dubbed “GH” by his grandchildren, passed away peacefully in Ocean City NJ on May 23, 2023 surrounded by his family and wife of 62 years, Ann Rosemary (Nancy) O’Connell Pugh.
Bill was a 1954 graduate of Lower Merion High School, a 1958 graduate of Villanova University and a 1961 graduate of Villanova Law School. He co-founded the law firm of Kane, Pugh, Knoell, Troy & Kramer, LLP and created the world-renowned Tortuga Golden Striders.
An avid and cynical Philadelphia sports fan, Bill watched the Eagles win the 1948 NFL Championship in a blizzard with his father, and again at Franklin Field in 1960. He held Phillies season tickets for most of the 1970s and yelled at them on the TV, right up until the end.
Bill was an athletic pioneer, running the Philadelphia and Boston marathons in the early 70’s before most people even knew what running a marathon meant. He founded the Tortuga Golden Striders in that era, coining the phrase “Start slowly, then ease off.” Not satisfied with running, Bill also became a triathlete and a prominent open water swimmer in the 1980s, competing in many endurance events, including the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships. Bill competed in the Ocean City Master’s Swim more than 35 times. He last completed the Master’s Swim in 2021 at the age of 84, at which time he dominated his age group.
Bill is a former President of the Montgomery Bar Association (“short speeches, long drinks”), a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the Ocean City Beach Patrol Hall of Fame. A lifelong Beatles fan, Bill and Nancy were in the audience of the Ed Sullivan Show when the Beatles made their first American appearance on February 9, 1964.
When Bill turned 60, he thought it was a good idea to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in a 37-foot sloop. Upon reaching his destination after 35 days at sea, Bill disembarked, and never set foot on a boat again.
Bill’s ubiquitous influence on those around him was never more evident than at the many parties he and Nancy hosted at 3419 Central Ave in Ocean City following lifeguard races, ocean swims and beach runs. Those legendary parties fostered lifelong friendships, professional relationships and more than a few marriages.
Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years, Nancy O’Connell Pugh, his sisters Barbara and Patricia, his children William Henry Pugh V (Mary), Robert Connell Pugh (Chrissy), Bonnie Anne Pugh, Elizabeth Kathryn Pugh, and Nancy Pugh Newman (Michael), his grandchildren Allison (Ryan), Megan, Katie, Lauren (Chris), Andrew, Annie Rose, Sophie, Sam, Izzie, Olivia and Owen, and great grandchildren Reese, Rose, and Lucy.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday June 15, 2023 at 5:00 PM at the Philadelphia Cricket Club, 415 W. Willow Grove Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19118. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation in Bill’s name to Friends of the Wissahickon (https://fow.org/), where he logged many miles. Arrangements by the George H. Wimberg Funeral Home, Linwood – Ventnor. Condolences may be extended to the family at ghwimberg.com