HAMPTON, VA. - Lt. Col. Edmund Ronald (Ron) Williams passed away July 26 at the age of 81.
He was born Sept. 28, 1931, in LaGrange, Ga., to the late Nellie and Rance Williams. He was one of seven siblings. Ron grew up in Georgia and played football for LaGrange High School, where he was affectionately known as the LaGrange Lawnmower for his ability to "cut down" his opponents. His prowess on the football field earned him a full scholarship to University of Georgia, where he played ball for four years, but became a good "Dawg" for life.
Ron graduated from UGA in 1953 with a bachelor of science in health and physical education. That same year, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry and in November 1953 married Violet (Vi) Greene, who died in 2011. The couple had three children.
Ron's 22-year Army career included tours of duty with the 508th, 11th, 82nd and 101st Airborne Commands. During this time, he made more than 300 jumps from aircraft, earning him a master parachutist rating by the U.S. Army. He received a Bronze Star Medal for his service during the Vietnam War.
His various assignments took him around the world, to such far flung destinations as Japan, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam and Hawaii. While serving his country, he earned a master's degree from Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville. He retired from the U.S. Army in 1975 on permanent disability and became a consummate cook and devoted father and grandfather. He was a member of Hampton Church of Christ.
Ron's life was a long and loving adventure and his parting thought for all those who have had the pleasure of knowing him is "How sweet it has been!"
He is survived by his daughter, Vicki Smith and husband Jim of Bonaire, Ga., sons Mark and wife Amy of Misawa, Japan, and David and wife Cheryl of Hampton; six grandchildren: Sarah Smith Mercer , Courtney Smith, Jessie, Alaina, Violet Maria and Albin Angelo Williams and two great-grandchildren, Leila and Liam Mercer. Also surviving are brothers, Barry of Augusta, Ga., and Tom of Douglas, Ga., and sisters, Sue Parker of Washington, D.C., and Sandra Green of Chattanooga, Tenn. He also is survived by many nieces and nephews, who will miss him dearly.
A graveside service with full military honors will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 2, at Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery, Suffolk, with the Rev. Greg Williams, Ron's nephew, officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project online at WoundedWarriorProject.org or by writing Wounded Warrior Project, PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675.
Arrangements by R. Hayden Smith Funeral Home.