I will always remember Chris “Raoul” Williams as the childhood friend I ran through the streets of Panama City with, rode shotgun with so many hot summer nights along dirt roads in the '63 Ford Fairlane that he rescued from Fleming's junkyard, and more than anything else I will always remember Chris as my best friend through all these years. We grew up as kids who didn't have the disadvantage of a lot of material distractions and didn't need them, because what we did have were loving parents who gave us strong ethics and characters, and provided bedrock in our lives. We never had a shortage of love or friendship and Chris was always the one among us who stepped forward to serve as the glue to hold those values intact; He was the heart and soul of everything that was right. He was always the one you could go to when you had a problem or just needed to talk. And when childhood ended, and we entered the adult world, Chris was always there for his friends like the Stonewall at Manassas. The door to his house was always open and the light was always on. When my son was born, I knew without hesitation that I would ask Chris to be his Godfather and that he would accept. The bond we shared was so strong that it became a pillar of strength that has supported me through many difficult times.
Chris was truly blessed when he met his wife, Jeanne, who became the light of his life. Chris would tell me without hesitation that Jeanne was his special angel and he would marvel at his fortune. I am so glad that they found each other, because theirs is a true love and the world needs more of that kind of love. My thoughts and prayers are with Jeanne and all of Chris' family at this time.
I have been in the process of reading a Civil War book that Chris recommended to me. Within the book “A Stillness at Appomattox” is a passage describing another young man who was called to the Lord on the battlefield at Cold Harbor, Virginia over a century ago. The young soldier's colleague expressed his feelings of loss with the words “If a person is meant to die on land, he will not drown. If death on the battlefield is to be his lot, he will not die in the cradle. God's dispositions are wise and his ways are inscrutable.” I believe that Chris was meant to share his love, passion, and knowledge on this Earth and we will be forever richer in our souls for having been blessed that he shared his life with us. He was a natural teacher. I have seen the comments by his students, and they speak volumes to his talent. Every life he has touched is for the better, and the passing of such a man cannot be without pain and sorrow. The Lord has called Chris home to the Kingdom, but in His wise mercy the Lord has left us with the memory of a great man so that we might try to live our lives in a way to honor him.
I wish I could be there to say farewell to my kind, loyal, and honest friend. His passing has left a hole in my heart that will never be filled.