WILLIAMS, DONALD E.
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Gainesville - Dr. Donald E. Williams, of Gainesville, Florida, passed away peacefully on April 23, 2014 in Matthews, North Carolina, after a brief illness. He was surrounded and comforted by his family and has gone to join his wife, Esther Faith Williams, in the Church Triumphant. He was 90 years old and a resident of Gainesville for 54 years.
Dr. Williams was born on August 17, 1923 in Odon, Indiana to Duster and Emma Seneff Williams. He had two sisters, Irene Williams and Phyllis Ketchem.
Before beginning his college education, Dr. Williams was an employee in the Personnel Department at the Crane Naval Depot during World War II. Dr. Williams received a Bachelor's degree from Franklin College, a Master's degree from Purdue University and a Philosophy Doctorate from Northwestern University. As a professor of Speech Communication specializing in Intercultural Communication, he taught briefly at Cornell University before joining the faculty at the University of Florida, where he taught for over 35 years. Dr. Williams was a Fulbright Scholar and, during his long and distinguished career, he had teaching engagements in over 20 countries - Zimbabwe, China, Russia, The Netherlands, and Croatia, to name a few.
He was an avid volunteer even in retirement, delivering food and hand-picked local produce to friends and neighbors. He was a spokesperson and advocate for reading and education. He worked with the Friends of the Library in Gainesville and read for the blind through the WUFT-FM Radio Reading Service. Dr. Williams was an elder in the Presbyterian Church, having been a member of First Presbyterian Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gainesville. Dr. Williams was an adventurous collector of historic items from books and music to photographs and unique items from his many travels. If you wanted to hear a good story, all you had to do was ask about his "fabulous brown bottle collection." It brought him great joy that a large portion of his collections were donated to various museums and universities across the country.
Dr. Williams is survived by his son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, Bruce, Pamela, Spencer and Landon Williams; and his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren Vanessa, Kevin, Amber, Dawn, Daniel, Jonathan, and René Faith Carpenter.
A memorial celebration for Dr. Williams will be held on May 24, 2014 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, FL. The church may be contacted at (352) 378-4032 for further details. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Friends of the Library (Alachua County Library District) at 430-B North Main Street, Gainesville, Florida 32601. (352) 375-1676.
Published in Gainesville Sun from Apr. 29 to Apr. 30, 2014