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RICHARD WILLIAMS

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February 19, 1926 - November 15, 2012 OKLAHOMA CITY Dick Williams was born in Audubon, Iowa, in 1926 to Walter and Olga Williams, a newspaper editor and a first-generation Danish-American. From the age of four, he grew up in Fairfield, Iowa, where he was the President of his high school class, President of the National Forensic League, a member of the National Honor Society, and active in speech, debate, music, and track. In 1944, immediately upon graduation from high school, he entered the U.S. Navy. In the V-12 officers' training program, he attended Ohio Wesleyan University and the University of Virginia. At the conclusion of World War II, he completed his undergraduate work in political science and economics at Ohio Wesleyan, where he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta. He earned an MBA at Northwestern University in 1949 and was discharged from the Navy Reserves as a Lieutenant J.G. In 1949, he joined the Gardner Board & Carton Company in Middletown, Ohio, as a personnel manager. After various promotions, he served as Director of Industrial and Public Relations of what had become the Gardner Division of Diamond Gardner Corporation. He was active in the community: he served as President of the Industrial Council, as President of the Cancer Society, as the chair of a committee to advise the Middletown school board on teacher compensation, and as a board member of the Middletown hospital and Junior Achievement. In 1950, Dick married his sweetheart from Ohio Wesleyan, Carol Lee Francis. Their marriage lasted 62 wonderful years. In 1961, he joined the Fleming Companies of Topeka, Kansas, as Director of Personnel. In Topeka, he was also active in the community: he helped start a Junior Achievement chapter and was its second president; he was President of the St. Francis Hospital Advisory Board; and he served on the board of United Way. Dick and his family moved to Oklahoma City with Fleming Companies in 1973. He rose through the ranks to become Executive Vice President of Human Resources in 1982. By the end of his career in 1988, Fleming was the largest food wholesaler in the United States. Nationally recognized in the food industry, he spoke regularly at conventions of the National American Wholesale Grocers Association and the Supermarket Institute. He served as the Campaign Chairman for the United Way of Greater Oklahoma City in 1980 and was elected Chapter President in 1984 and 1986. In 2004, he received the Richard H. Clements Lifetime Achievement Award from the United Way. He also served many other community organizations, including the Boy Scouts, the Community Council, the Red Cross, the Better Business Bureau, Oklahoma City Beautiful, the Center for Nonprofit Management, and Executive Service Corps of Oklahoma. Dick and Carol loved traveling. In addition to visiting dozens of countries on six continents, they hosted their three children and their spouses on international trips to celebrate their wedding anniversary every five years. For 18 years after his retirement, Dick and Carol spent winters in Coronado, California, where they welcomed visiting friends and made many new ones. Dick was also an avid tennis player well into his eighties. He also enjoyed membership in the Chaine des Rotisseurs, an international food and wine society, including his role as Bailli (Bailiff or President) of the Oklahoma Chapter for three years. Dick is survived by his wife, Carol; sister, Kathy Champlin and her husband Bob, of Kansas City, Kansas; daughter, Gayle Hadden and her husband Terry, of Wichita, Kansas; son, Todd Williams and his wife Judy, of Morrison, Colorado; son, Scott Williams and his wife Leslie Batchelor, of Oklahoma City; granddaughter, Alyssa Burnett and her husband James Burnett, of Oklahoma City; granddaughter, Tiffany Hadden, of Wichita, Kansas; grandson, Bryant Hadden, of Denver, Colorado; granddaughters, Kate and Abby Williams, of Oklahoma City; and two great-grandchildren, Lydia and Levi Burnett, both of Oklahoma City. A memorial service will take place in the Hahn-Cook/Street & Draper Chapel, 6600 Broadway Extension, Oklahoma City, on Tuesday, November 20, 2012, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in Dick's memory should be made to the United Way of Greater Oklahoma City.

Published in The Oklahoman from Nov. 18 to Nov. 19, 2012
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