Thomas Williams

Thomas J. Williams, Esq.

(May 29, 1925 - September 15, 2013)

Thomas J. Williams was born in Fresnillo, Zacatecas, Mexico, on May 29, 1925. His father was Thomas Williams, of Welsh origin, who worked for an English mining company in Mexico. His mother was Carlotta Aguirre, a native of Mexico.

For educational reasons Tom was sent to reside, along with his four (and later, five) siblings, in El Paso, Texas. He served with the First Armored Infantry Battalion in Italy (First Armored Division) for two and a half years. He was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action- capturing several German troops from a machine gun nest in northern Italy. At the end of the war before his return to the States he taught Italian pronunciation at a service college in Florence.

Following his honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in December 1945, Tom attended what is now the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) for five years. During that time he received his B.A. and M.A. in English and Spanish literature.

In 1951 Tom moved to San Francisco with the intention of taking further graduate courses at UC Berkeley with an eye to becoming a professor of English. Instead, he enrolled at San Francisco Law School where, after four years of night classes, he was awarded his JD. He then opened a private law office in San Francisco and practiced until shortly before his death. During extensive work as a trial lawyer he appeared as a plaintiff's lawyer in many prominent cases, including a California Supreme Court probate case that established new guidelines in cases of equitable adoption.

Tom's first wife was Nancy Guggenheim Draper. Nancy died on January 1, 1973. She was an accomplished ballet dancer and wrote the book Ballet For Beginners. Nancy had two sons, Dana and George Draper who live in the Bay Area, along with grandchildren Brian and Courtney, all of whom Tom cherished as family members.

Tom is survived by his second wife, Adriana Williams. Adriana, likewise a writer, and a granddaughter of former-President of Mexico Plutarco Elias Calles, has published a widely-read biography of Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias as well as other books about the artist; his wife, Rosa Covarrubias; and, other famous Mexicans including architect Luis Barragan. Her son, Christopher Catchpool, was a close stepson to Tom.

Tom and Adriana shared a passion for art and were devotees of Wagner's Ring Cycle having attended fifteen "Rings" around the world. During thirty-nine years of marriage they assembled an important art collection encompassing Art Nouveau; Symbolism; Mexican and Californian contemporary art.

Tom is survived by his brother, retired U.S. Navy Captain, Richard C. Williams who resides in Boca Raton, Florida, and by numerous nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to In Memory of Thomas J. Williams.

A celebration of Tom's life will be held in November - place and time to be announced. To receive details please email your contact information to prior to November 1, 2013.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Sept. 23 to Sept. 29, 2013