He was born on Feb. 16, 1922, in Manchester, the third of six children born to Ira and Vister Williams. His sisters were the late Gretel Ferrell, the late Annie Mae Sanders and Thelma Haggard; brothers, the late Frank Williams and Allen Lindbergh Williams.
He attended Curry High School and drove the school bus mornings and afternoons. While at Curry he was an accomplished athlete in baseball and football, playing tight end on the school’s football team. After graduation he married a classmate and friend, also from Manchester, Jimmie Imogene Williams. They had three children, Barbara Williams, Deborah Barham and Lester Williams. He attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute, otherwise known as Auburn for a short period of time before World War II interrupted his studies, and he was drafted into the U.S. Army where he excelled as a communications chief in the Rhineland Central Europe Campaign as part of the elite 100th Infantry Division, 373rd Field Artillery Battalion. He directed and supervised 47 enlisted men in all phases of installation and light maintenance; operated radio and wire communications within all battalion units; maintained contact with other units to insure efficient firing of 155-mm Howitzers and coordination of attacks against enemy installations. He was awarded the Bronze Star medal (as well as other awards and commendations) for bravery during an engagement of German forces in the Vosges Mountain campaign.
At the end of the war he was honorably discharged and returned home to Alabama where he began a short but successful career in the insurance business before moving to Huntsville to become a security guard at Redstone Arsenal. While at Redstone Jimmie, his wife, was working in civil service as a secretary to one of the fifty-plus, original German rocket scientists. On Jimmie’s request to her boss on her husband’s behalf, he landed a civil service position in Quality Assurance, working as an electronics technician on the Saturn V rocket that eventually launched man to the moon. He enjoyed a long 18 plus year career at Redstone Arsenal before being caught up in one of the first major personnel “reduction in forces” there at Redstone. He then dabbled in selling used cars and eventually set up his own company right in his front yard so he could devote most of his time to his real passions, deer hunting, fishing and growing huge vegetable gardens. He was also married to Doris Preston who died of cancer several years after their marriage.
He worked tirelessly all his retired life and enjoyed the company of his family and extended family; beloved nieces, nephews and friends. By this time, his ex-wife, Jimmie, was given the opportunity to occupy his other “duplex” at his home, later joined by their son, Lester. Though “divorced” the two were somewhat compatible friends the rest of his life and Dad always made sure Jimmie was o.k., had enough firewood for her wood burning stove every winter and shared all his vegetables he grew with Jimmie and many others. He was an accomplished outdoorsman, hunting and fishing whenever possible. It was well-known that he could out-walk men half his age up a mountain in below freezing temperatures well into his eighties. He particularly enjoyed hunting and fishing with his son, Les, his grandson, Nic, and nephews, Bill and Sandy Sanders, as well as many other hunting friends. He also loved tinkering with car engines and repairing or attempting to repair anything that was broken.
He was a good and loyal friend. If he liked you, he was your friend for life and many people could count on him for anything if they needed help of any kind. His love and caring for others crossed all racial barriers, and he was fortunate to have been loved by people of several races. His family and extended family will miss him sorely, and we are grateful that our Dad and “Poppy,” as he was called by his extended family, was loved so much by so many people for many, many years. Dad lived life on his own terms for more than 89 years and we, his children, grandchild, Jimmie and the extended family he loved so much, will remember his acts of love and caring for the rest of our lives. So goodbye Dad, Granddad, Poppy and friend and may you rest in peace forever.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.