Dr. Howard Williams
Dr. Howard C. Williams was a devoted physician, noted historian, community photographer and loving father. Those were among some of the accomplishments of the man described as a genius with a curiosity to learn and a spirit to live a life full of the arts and sciences. He passed away Jan. 14, at the age of 89 after a brief illness. He had planned on returning to his medical office to see patients because he had never retired.
Funeral services will be at 2:00 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, at First United Methodist Church in Orange. A visitation will be held Saturday, Jan. 17, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Claybar Funeral Home in Orange. Burial will follow at Orange Forest Lawn Cemetery.
He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 61 years, Elizabeth Quillin Williams; son, Jeffrey Howard Williams; grandson, David Howard May; and brother, Hugh Williams.
He is survived by daughters, Shelley Williams Hart and husband, Patrick John Hart; Leslie Williams, and Alison Williams; along with grandchildren, Katherine Elizabeth May and Dylan Margaret Walsh. Also surviving him are his daughters in spirit, Chrisleigh Dal Sasso, Patricia Owens and Melanie McCann; sister-in-law, Mary Katherine Goodwin; nieces, Katherine Sheets and husband, Merle, and Andrea Goodwin and nephews Jim Goodwin and wife, Becky and Leslie Goodwin.
Dr. Williams was born in Lake Charles, in 1925 to Waldron “Pappy” Williams and Alma Harris. The family moved to Port Arthur, where he was reared. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1943 and immediately joined the U.S. Army to fight in World War II. He landed in Normandy three days after the D-Day invasion and saw action across France and into Germany until the war ended, including the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he used the G.I. Bill to go to college at Lamar and North Texas State University before going to medical school at the Baylor College of Medicine.
Dr. Williams and his wife, Elizabeth, moved to Orange in the summer of 1953 with their 9-day-old son, Jeffrey, so he could open a family medicine practice. He once recalled that he saw one patient his first day to treat a sprained ankle. He made house calls in the early days for a charge of $8. During those days he was on the staff of the Frances Ann Lutcher Hospital and the Orange City Hospital. When Orange Memorial Hospital opened, he joined the staff there and served as chief of staff. He delivered more than 3,000 babies and never lost a mother. In June 1957, he was sent to help in the rescue of people in Cameron, La, after Hurricane Audrey. He stayed in Orange through hurricanes Rita in 2005 and Ike in 2008 to assist in medical care in the recovery. Through more than 60 years of practicing medicine, he showed a love of people and concern for their well-being. He was also dedicated to his medical office staff, which showed their devotion through long years of work with him. His medical work also included serving as the Orange County Health Officer and as physician for the Orange County Jail. His work led to the county jail being the first in Texas to receive acceptance by the American Medical Association for its standards of care.
Dr. Williams began collecting Texana when he was young and discovered that Orange’s history had never been recorded. After that, he showed a passion for gathering local photographs, historical documents and history stories. His information was collected into two books, “Orange: Gateway to Texas,” and “Picturing Orange.” The first book won the Texas Historical Commission’s T.R. Fehrenbach Award for the best book about Texas history. In appreciation for his work, the community held a sold-out banquet at the Sunset Grove Country Club in his honor.
Dr. Williams and his wife were instrumental in saving an old house from demolition and moving it to become the Heritage House Museum of Orange. For more than 40 years he was appointed by the Orange County Commissioners Court to serve on the county historical commission, which recommends local sites and events for state historical markers. He served as chair of the commission for more than 30 years. In addition, he was a founder of the Orange County Historical Society and wrote many articles for the historical quarterly, “Las Sabinas.” Not only did he collect and copy photographs, he studied photography and for half a century took thousands of photographs of local events, making his own record of history. His collection of photographs is online through his own website and the Portal to Texas History by the UNT Libraries. He was a member of dozens of historical and genealogical groups. In 1987, the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce named him “Citizen of the Year” for his work and spirit of giving to the community.
Memorials may be made to the Heritage House Museum for the Howard and Elizabeth Williams collection of archives.