Speakers remember Dr. Al Williams as ‘wonderful man, wonderful friend’
BY JAMES HARPER
Holding back tears, Alan Williams recalled how his father told him and his brother, Anthony, to persist until they succeed.
This was the second time Alan had to attend a funeral of a family member. In January, his brother passed away. On Saturday, he spoke at the funeral of his father, Volusia County School Board Chairman Dr. Alfred Williams, who died unexpectedly on Oct. 1.
Dr. Williams was remembered by family and friends during a celebration of his life on Oct. 6 at the Basillica of St. Paul Catholic Church.
‘A gift to us all’
Many rows were filled with representatives from the Volusia County School District, including his fellow school board members, School Superintendent Margaret Smith as well as other teachers and staff he worked with over the years. Several rows included fraternity brothers from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
“He prepared me well. He wanted us to be better than he was,’’ Alan Williams told those attending the service.
The Rev. Tim Daly, who referred to Williams as Al, delivered the homily.
“Al was a wonderful man, wonderful friend, a gift to us all. Al’s name is written in heaven,” Daly said.
Daly said Williams’ childlike qualities is what attracted children to him.
“He loved children. He was childlike. Because of his faith, he did what he did for his church, community and kids. His life has not ended; it’s changed,” Daly continued.
Daly called on the hundreds in attendance to look back on Williams’ life and “ask yourself what can I do to continue his work. Al was committed to improving life and quality of life. His spirit stays with us.”
Williams’ stepson Jerrell Smith also spoke during the service.
“There was no step in our love for one another. He helped me advance in the corporate world. He has given me a great deal of knowledge, which I will spread to the next generation,” Smith said.
Eddie Campbell called Williams his best friend and remembers going over to his home to help barbecue.
“I called him Big Al. He referred to me as my buddy. He loved to barbecue. …I started the fire. He was a good one for giving out instructions,” Campbell said to laughter.
Campbell said Williams was proud to be a member of the Volusia County School Board.
“He would see kids and stick out his hand and say, I’m Dr. Al, school board member. He loved to give out pencils,” Campbell concluded.
Williams started out as a teacher and a professor and worked as an educational consultant for low-performing high schools for Chicago Public Schools. He also was the executive director of the personnel department for the Austin (Texas) Independent School District.
He was first elected to the Volusia County School board in 1984 and served until 1992. He was re-elected to the school board in 2004 when he returned to Florida.
Williams represented District 2, including the Greater Daytona Beach area, Daytona Beach Shores, Ponce Inlet, South Daytona and a portion of Port Orange.
There will be a special election next year to replace Williams, who was re-elected in August to another four-year term.
Williams was born on June 7, 1942, in Chicago and earned a doctoral degree in Educational Administration from Columbia University in New York. He received his Master of Business Administration from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach and a Master of Science in Mathematics from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago.
His Bachelor of Arts degree is from St. Mary’s College in Minnesota.
Williams’ first wife, Willenor, died in 1997. They had two sons, Alan and Anthony. Williams would later marry Dr. Katherine Smith.
In addition to his wife, Katherine, son and stepson, he is survived by a stepdaughter and six grandchildren.