(Crystal Proxmire, Dec. 30, 2012)
George Williams was a Ferndale icon, and in his 91 years on earth he lived an exciting and love-filled life. The well-recognized senior passed away this week.
Williams was born in Ohio but came to Michigan after serving in World War II from November 1942 to February 1946. He served in the Army’s 13th Armored Division in Japan. He was later part of the documentary file “Victor’s Plea for Peace: An American Officer in Occupied Nagasaki,” which focused on US Army Colonel Victor Delnore’s objection to the use of nuclear weapons. Delnore and Williams served together in the war.
After serving in Japan, Williams moved to the Detroit area where he worked on the line for Cadillac for nearly 30 years.
In the 60’s and 70’s William’s life took an unexpected turn when some kids from his church wanted to play rock music in the church’s basement. Some in the church were unsure, but Williams encouraged them. During lunch over a year ago Williams told the story of how the kids got to be so good that they wanted to start performing for others. Without any prior experience, Williams began contacting clubs and event organizers and booking shows for the youth. They got so big that they, with their informal manager Williams in tow, toured around the country and even in Europe, playing with rockstars like Bob Segar and mingling with the Supremes, Dion, the Shirelles, the Belmonts, Alice Cooper and more. If someone out there can clarify, The Ferndale 115 News is not clear if Mitch Ryder was one of the youth that Williams helped launch to fame, or if he is another that the youth had performed with. Either way, Williams found himself in the midst of the Detroit music revolution, all because he enjoyed seeing the youth so passionate about doing what they loved.
After helping the kids with their rock and roll, Williams focused his energy on the senior citizens of the Ferndale community, working for the Senior Center from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, after which time he remained involved as an active member.
He also remained an active Veteran, serving as the Honary Parade Marshal for the Memorial Day Parade each year. Though his vision had nearly left him several years ago, Williams would ride in the back of the convertible, waving at the crowds he could hear applauding him on.
Williams also was President of the Senior group for some time, and enjoyed coming to the meetings. After the meetings he would take the senior bus to Christine’s Cuisine to enjoy his favorite restaurant, and the owner would have someone from the staff take leave to drive him home.
Viewing is at Haley’s Funeral Home, 24 524 Northwestern Highway, Southfield. 248 356-4800. Visitation is Sunday from 2-7 and the Funeral is Monday at First Baptist Church in Detroit.
If anyone would like to include their memories of George Williams, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with whatever information you have.