Mr. Harry Marion Williams

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On July 15, 2017, Harry Marion Williams Jr. passed away at the NHC healthcare facility in Anderson, S.C., where he had resided for the last four years. He was 99 years old.
Harry M. Williams Jr. was born on July 21, 1918, in Chester (Chester County), the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Harry M. Williams Sr. of Chester. He was educated in the Chester City Schools. He graduated from The Citadel in 1939 and following graduation he began working for New York Life Insurance Company. He was called to active duty in World War II in 1942, and served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army (32nd Division-126 Infantry Regiment) in the Pacific Theater. He fought the Japanese in the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines for control of those strategic islands. The history of the 126 Infantry Regiment and their struggle to take the village of Buna on New Guinea's north coast is told in two books, "The Ghost Mountain Boys" by James Campbell and "32 Answered: A S.C. Veteran's Story" by Dr. Joe Camp. The latter was published in 2015 and dedicated to Harry. In Campbell's book, he quotes "Time" magazine, which summarized the battle in 1942 as follows: "Nowhere in the world today are American soldiers engaged in fighting so desperate, so merciless, so bitter or so bloody." Harry's unit took heavy casualties and at one time, approximately 85% of his fellow soldiers were either killed or wounded. Among his fellow soldiers, Harry earned the name "Lucky Williams" because in over 3 ½ years of war he was never wounded. Harry was awarded the Bronze Star, a U.S. military decoration awarded for bravery, acts of merit or meritorious service. Following the war, Harry remained in the Army reserve and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel after a total of 27 years of active and reserve service.
After WWII, Harry returned to Chester. On Dec. 22, 1945, he married Mary Catherine Martin of Richburg and started a family. He resumed working as a representative for New York Life Insurance Company. He lived and worked in Chester but also worked in the surrounding towns of Lancaster and York. Harry obtained the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) certification from the American College of Life Underwriters in 1952. He worked for New York Life Insurance Company for approximately 60 years (1939 to 1999 except for 3 ½ years that he served in World War II). He was a lifetime member of the New York Life Insurance's Million Dollar Roundtable. Harry loved his work and helping his clients and for that reason, he never really wanted to retire. He was appreciated and loved by his clients and his many friends. He was the consummate gentleman and a man full of goodwill and good humor. He was a loving and devoted husband, father and the spiritual leader of his family. He provided a good life for his family.
He was a lifelong member of Purity Presbyterian Church in Chester, where he served as deacon, elder, Clerk of Session, Sunday School teacher and Sunday School Superintendent. He also sang in the choir. Harry's hobby was growing roses and the beautiful flowers from his garden would often end up in the church sanctuary or be given to friends that were ill or needed their spirits lifted. Harry was also active in his community of Chester, serving on the Chester City Council, the Lions Club and as a Boy Scout Leader at his church. He was also an avid supporter of his alma mater, The Citadel. In their retirement years (1999), Harry and his wife, Mary Catherine, moved to The Cypress retirement community in Charlotte. There they enjoyed nine wonderful years together. After Mary Catherine passed in 2008, Harry moved to Anderson, S.C. to be close to his daughter, Mrs. Cathy Beard.
Harry is survived by one sister, Francis McSween of Clinton, S.C.; a daughter, Cathy Beard and her husband, Carl, of Anderson, S.C.; a son, Marty Williams and his wife, Anne, of Harrisburg, N.C.; and by five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19, 2017, at Purity Presbyterian Church on Wylie Street in Chester with the Rev. Jason W. Myers officiating. The family will receive friends immediately following the service prior to the interment. Interment will follow at Evergreen Cemetery in Chester. Harry will rest next to his beloved wife, Mary Catherine.
Memorials may be made to Purity Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 278, Chester, SC 29706.
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Barron Funeral Home
133 Wylie Street
Chester, SC 29706
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Published in The News & Reporter on July 26, 2017
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