Benjamin Buford Williams, II, Ph.D. and Col. USAFR (ret.) and Marilyn Simpson Williams, his wife of 60 years, died within a few hours of one another on October 19 and 20, 2013. He was 90 years old, having been born on April 28, 1923. Dr. Williams was a retired Professor of English at AUM while Mrs. Williams was a retired reference librarian. He is preceded in death by his siblings: Royal Haywood Williams, Shirley Williams Wigglesworth, Edith Williams Hancock, and Stanley Ballou Wigglesworth.
Raised in Mobile, Ben graduated from Murphy High School in 1942. A World War II veteran, he fought at the Huertgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, and was in one of the first units to cross the Remagen Bridge into Germany. Following the war, he received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Williams taught English literature for over 40 years, retiring as Professor Emeritus in 1991. His book, A Literary History of Nineteenth Century Alabama, is considered the seminal work on early Alabama literature. In 2004, he was presented with the Eugene Current Garcia Award as an outstanding literary scholar.
Mrs. Williams, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, was born on February 14, 1928. Graduating from Hillsboro High School in 1946, Marilyn attended Mary Baldwin College and George Peabody Graduate School of Library Science. She retired from a distinguished career of 33 years as the chief reference librarian at the Air University Library at Maxwell Air Force Base in 1986.
Ben was past president of the Montgomery Shakespeare Players, the Richard Montgomery Chapter of the S.A.R., and the Alabama Reserve Officers Association. He was a long-time member of the A.F.A., the M.O.A.A., the V.F.W., the American Legion, the Alabama Historical Association, and the Montgomery Quarterback Club. He was a lifetime member of the 78th Division Association.
Marilyn was a long-time member of the Alabama Library Association, the Montgomery B.P.W., and the Frances Marion Chapter of the D.A.R. She was past president of the Episcopal Church Women and served as head of the Altar Guild at her church for nearly 40 years. Both Ben and Marilyn were members of the St. Andrews Society and the Old South Society for over 30 years.
They are survived by their four children, Julianne (Winfield Sinclair), Buford, Randall (Nancy), and Lyn (Rodney Best). They are survived by their eight grandchildren: Ashley (Christopher Barnes), Amanda (John Jinright), Sarah Best, Andrew Williams, Katharine Williams, Nathaniel Williams, Victoria Williams, and Zachary Williams, and one step-grandchild, Jason McEwan.
Visitation will be Wednesday night at Leak Memory Funeral Home from 5 to 8 p.m. Funeral Services will be Thursday, October 24th at 10 a.m. at All Saints Episcopal Church, 645 Coliseum Boulevard. Interment and graveside services will follow for family only. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to All Saints Episcopal Church Memorial Fund.
Published in the Montgomery Advertiser on Oct. 23, 2013