Cabaniss was the son of William Cabaniss Sr and the grandson of attorney Edward Cabaniss. He attended the Altamont School and graduated from the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey in 1956. He then earned a bachelor of arts at Vanderbilt University in 1960, and, having trained in that school's ROTC program he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U. S. Army and served as an Airborne Ranger during three years' active duty in Germany.
Cabaniss returned to Birmingham in 1964 and took a job with the Southern Cement Company. He resigned in 1971 and acquired a small metal-grinding service which he cultivated into the successful Precision Grinding processing and machining company.
Cabaniss entered politics with a successful campaign for the Alabama House of Representatives in 1978. In 1982 he won a seat in the Alabama State Senate, serving two terms before resigning to challenge Howell Heflin for the United States Senate. President George H. W. Bush came to Birmingham to campaign for him in the 1990 general election, but Heflin, who characterized his opponent as a "Grey Poupon, Gucci-clothes, Mercedes-driving, jacuzzi-soaking, Perrier-drinking Republican", was re-elected to a third term with 61% of the vote.1.
Cabaniss was appointed Ambassador to the Czech Republic by President George W. Bush in December 2003. He took charge of the American Embassy in Prague in January 2004. He completed his service in 2006 and helped to organize the Birmingham International Center's Spotlight on the Czech Republic in 2007.
Cabaniss has served on the boards of directors for AmSouth Bank, Birmingham Steel Corporation, Southern Company and the Protective Life Corporation. He chaired the Metropolitan Development Board and has been a member of several regional and national organizations. In community service he has chaired the board of Junior Achievement of Jefferson County and served on the boards of the Birmingham Rotary Club, King's Ranch, and the Greater Alabama Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He has also been a warden for St Luke's Episcopal Church.
Cabaniss was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in 2004 and the Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 2006. He and his wife, Catherine, an artist, have two daughters, Mary and Frances, and five grandchildren.
|Alabama State Senator, District 11
Ryan deGraffenreid Jr
|Alabama State Senator, District 16
Jabo Waggoner Jr
|United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic
2004 - 2006
- Kahn & Kinney - 1999
- Kahn, Kim Fridkin and Patrick J. Kinney (1999) The Spectacle of U.S. Senate Campaigns. Princeton University Press ISBN 0691005052
- William J. Cabaniss, Jr profile. Alabama Business Hall of Fame