William Daniel Wall

June 25, 1942 - March 21, 2014
William Daniel Wall, June 25, 1942 - March 21, 2014

“Life was good, and so were we,” William Daniel Wall’s spouse, Patrick Travis, wrote of the 49 years he and Mr. Wall spent together. Mr. Wall, who was 71, died on March 21 at the Indian River Medical Center in Vero Beach, Fla., of undiagnosed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and sleep apnea, following an incident a week earlier.

They had been married on Dec. 11, 2013, “because we finally could,” Mr. Travis wrote.

Over the years, the couple lived in Manhattan and on Fire Island, moving to East Hampton after they lost 58 friends to AIDS, and spending winters in North Hutchinson Island, Fla., in recent years.

Mr. Wall was born in Freeport on June 25, 1942, to William Henry Wall and the former Evelyn Siganoc. He grew up in Massapequa, graduating from high school in 1959 before joining the Navy. He served from 1960 to ’64, teaching swimming to naval cadets in Pensacola, Fla., and then being stationed in Boston and on the U.S.S. Boston, where he became a gunner’s mate and participated in the blockade of the Black Sea during the Cuban missile crisis. He earned citations of honor and duty.

After his service, Mr. Wall went to trade school in Patchogue to become a hairdresser. It was there, in 1965, that he and Mr. Travis met. They “rescued each other and never looked back,” Mr. Travis said. They were successful in business and wise in their real estate investments, Mr. Travis said.

“Billy loved to cook and was very good at it. His recipes are famous,” Mr. Travis wrote. He also enjoyed gardening and was “a farmer at heart,” who used much of what he grew in his cooking.

The couple lived in Manhattan from 1967 to 2008, spending summers at Fire Island Pines until 1989. In 1970, they hired the architect Horace Gifford to build a glass house for them on Great South Bay. It was on the cover of several magazines, appeared in architectural textbooks, and was included in a book on the architect published last year. In 1982, they sold the house, which had been called “a modern monolith,” and bought a classic cottage on the ocean there. They then moved to Settlers Landing in East Hampton, where they built another house. They shared their home for 12 years with a black poodle, M.E. Rainstorm, who, Mr. Travis said, looks for Mr. Wall every day.

Mr. Wall is also survived by a half sister, Laurie Urban of Mount Olive, Miss., and by nieces and nephews who were like children to him, Mr. Travis said. They are Eric Dell, Jason Dell, and Jacqueline Zima Dell of Amityville and Karen Travis of Lake Worth, Fla. A sister, Mary Ellen Dell, died before him in 2002.

Mr. Wall was cremated. Mr. Travis said that when he dies their ashes will be mingled and dispersed at a favorite place.