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St. Jude Children's Hospital
501 St. Jude Place
Memphis, TN 38105
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Life Story / Obituary
When reflecting on the life of Ronald Williams, it is easy to see that he was so full of love for everyone around him. He could be stubborn at times and believed that his way was the only way, yet he was also loyal and supportive when it came to his family and friends. Ron worked hard and took his role as provider to heart, and his family was the driving force behind everything he did. He loved being a husband and father, but he just may have argued that nothing beat being a grandfather and great-grandfather. Deeply loved, Ron will be forever missed.
It was great to be an American during the colorful days of the Roaring Twenties. Innovation was leading the way to new conveniences such as the radio, washing machines, and refrigerator. This decade marked the end of the silent film era, and Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb made America fall in love with baseball. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1922 when Sherman and Emma (Ford) Williams were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Ronald Ray on December 8, 1922. Born in Morley, Michigan, he was the youngest of four children, yet he was basically an only child as there was such a large age difference between him and his older siblings, Chet, Ernie, and Betty. Tragedy struck at a young age when Ron’s father died when Ron was just a young boy of four. His mother later remarried Ernie Devoe, and he was like a father to Ron.
In many ways Ron was a typical young boy of his generation. He was raised on a farm, which meant that he had his fair share of farm chores. Because he was needed to drive a tractor, Ron mastered driving at a young age and even drove his mother to California when he was only 15. The family later moved to Grand Rapids where they settled on the South side of the city. Ron attended South High School and also played football during his younger years. He excelled in his studies, especially in math, but he left school to help support the family. Ron started working for his oldest brother, Chet, who owned Williams Form, which is where he spent his entire career. He also spent a few years living out in California when a job took him out there.
Living in California proved to be quite fateful as it was there that he met the young woman of his dreams. Her name was Beulah Guffy, and they met in a rather unusual way as he actually met her roommate first. There was a spark between them that neither could deny, and Ron went to the shoes store where Beulah worked just so he could talk to her. She fell for his eyes and his little boy grin, and the rest is history. Deeply in love, they were married at her aunt’s house on March 28, 1943, and they started their family with the birth of their daughter, Darlene. Soon after, Ron was drafted into the Army and served as a rifleman in the South Pacific. He was lucky, too, as he had a close call with a bullet hole in his helmet. Ron completed his military duties as an MP.
With his military duties fulfilled, Ron returned to Beulah and Darlene. They lived on Burton SE, and there they welcomed five more children including Ron, Joan, Jim, Bobby, and Cheri. Ron’s work left him traveling all over the Eastern half of the United States and was often gone for two to three weeks at a time. When he was home, Ron caught up on local news and liked having dinner on the table promptly at five. He often celebrated his return by taking the kids to A&W. Ron’s family also knew that his chair was his chair, and it was not to be moved. Ron and Beulah created a loving home for their kids, and their home was where all their kids’ friends wanted to be as well. They had a pool table in the basement, Ron was known to play football outside with the kids, and there were also ice rinks in the backyard during the winter. When Ron bought a cottage on Baptist Lake, this became the place where the family made some of their best memories in the coming years. After getting done with work in the summer, he drove to the lake and never once complained about having to grab the six empty gas tanks and go to the gas station. As the business grew Ron traveled less, but at least when he did travel it was easier once he got his pilot’s license. He even once flew Representative Gerald Ford from Detroit to Grand Rapids! Ron also kept up on things at home as he even mowed the lawn in his three piece suit at times!
First and foremost in Ron’s life was always his family. He was not really the disciplinarian - he was the one the kids went to if they wanted something. At the same time, Ron taught his children to embrace important values like working hard and being thrifty. He had a cash box that acted as the kids’ bank - and it had to balance to the penny - and it always did. While he was a wonderful provider, he also taught his children not to waste anything as he believed in being frugal. Later on, Ron was thrilled to become a grandfather, and he loved watching his grandchildren whenever he could. At times they could even get him in a card game. Over the years Ron was faithful in mailing birthday cards to each child, grandchild, and great-grandchild as well as all of their spouses. Every year for Christmas he was sure to buy each daughter and daughter-in-law something special. Ron and his wife did some traveling, but it was almost always either with family or to visit family. After retiring they split their time between California and living at Baptist Lake. While in California he often played golf, and he also enjoyed playing cards with friends and going to movies. About 13 years ago they moved back to Michigan to be closer to their family, settling next door to their daughter, Joan. Ron faithfully cared for Beulah in her last years, learning what it meant to be a nurturing caregiver as this didn’t come intuitively for him. He was deeply saddened with her death in 2014, and although he missed his wife dearly he continued to delight in his family and even became more talkative.
Known as “Pa” to so many, there was no one who met Ronald Williams and didn’t leave unchanged. To say he was meticulous may be putting it mildly, and he was a thinker who processed things before answering. Ron had a quick wit and a one-line zinger appropriate for any and every occasion, and he gave the best bear hugs. Although talkative, it took him a bit to warm up. Ron’s devotion to his family was truly unmatched, and his love for his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren had no equal. He leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Ronald Williams Sr., age 93 passed away October 19, 2016. He was preceded in death by his wife of 71 years, Beulah. Ron is survived by his children Darlene & Bob Klok, Ron & Bev Williams Jr., Joan Jones, Jim & Kimberly Williams, Bobby & Mary Williams, Cheri Williams; grandchildren (and great grandchildren): Ryan and Carrie Williams (Kamryn Coster, Harrison and Pyper Williams), Kate and Rob Overbeek (William, Henry and George), Tracy and John Churchill (Ashley, Spencer and Autum), Angela and Dave Johnson (Shane Harlan, Audrey Johnson, Alyssa Neuman), Don Jones, Shelly Jones & Joe Portner (Dylan Portner), Jim and Nikki Williams (Lexie and Brendan), Lindsey and Ryan Waselewsky (Layna, Kallen and Rylan), Aubrey and Kristopher Dragicevich (Allison and Kiley Dragicevich), Jillian Williams, Kelli and Chuck Copeland (Kaleigha Copeland), Nichole and Brad Rumble (Ethan and Kaidan Rumble), Crissy and Andrew Kline, Bobby Kwekel; sister-in-law Regina Guffy; and Beulah's extended brothers and sister Lee & Sylvia Stiles, Evelyn & Jack Knudson, Don & Mona Stiles; and many nieces and nephews. In addition to his wife, Ron was preceded in death by his son-in-law Don Jones, grandson Michael Marek, siblings Chet and Ernie Williams and Betty Griffin, brother-in-law Cecil Guffy, extended sister-in-law, Leota . Family and friends are invited to visit together on Sunday, October 23 from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home - Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where his funeral service will be held on Monday at 11 AM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to the either the Alzheimer's Association or St. Jude's Children's Hospital are appreciated. To read more about his life, to share a memory or photo, or to sign the guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com