Monument unveiled, trees planted to remember Dr. Williams

Widow: “He always said this is the people’s museum”

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery – more than 350 images!

HAMLET — Bobbie Williams was pleasantly surprised at the outpouring of support for her late husband.

Dr. William “Bill” Williams, former Hamlet City Council member and curator for the National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame, was honored today as students from Monroe Avenue Elementary School recognized Williams’ contributed to the city and the people who live, work and play here by planting two Kousa Dogwood trees. Longtime friend Charles Harrell unveiled a monument, also in Williams’ honor, that reads:

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Charles Harrell unveils the monument honoring his late friend, Dr. William "Bill" Williams, former Hamlet City Council member and curator of the National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Charles Harrell unveils the monument honoring his late friend, Dr. William “Bill” Williams, former Hamlet City Council member and curator of the National Railroad Museum and Hall of Fame.

In memory of William R. Williams, Ph.D. – Dedicated to his family, community, education and this museum he so loved.

Williams died Oct. 2, 2013, at the age of 85.

“He always said this is the people’s museum,” Barbara Williams said. “So I hope all of you will go in and enjoy it.”

Most did. The event was coordinated by the Hamlet Tree and Beautification Group, which also presented the winners of the student poster contest in conjunction with Arbor Day. Fifth-grader Ayana Griffin’s oil pastel won first place, Efesiah Bennett’s water color earned second place, Courtney Parker’s watercolor claimed third place. The winners were awarded $25, $15 and $10, respectively, while Jamal Ingals’ watercolor and cut paper combo took honorable mention.

Dr. Bill Haltiwanger, whom often jokes that it no longer matters what stories he tells about his late friend as no one’s around to set him straight, said his old friend would have appreciated the reception.

“Bill was a special friend of mine,” Haltiwanger said, “probably the best friend I ever had.”

The hour-long ceremony, with more than 100 people in attendance, was started by words of welcome from Sheila Sellers, president of the Hamlet Tree and Beautification Group. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by members of AMVETS Post 316’s Larry Mercer, a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Ayana Griffin won first place in Monroe Avenue Elementary School's Arbor Day poster contest.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Ayana Griffin won first place in Monroe Avenue Elementary School’s Arbor Day poster contest.

Hamlet Mayor Bill Bayless read a proclamation citing Williams’ lengthy list of contributions to the community, then Chris McGee, assistant county ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service, read from “Trees are Terrific from Every Angle,” which served as the theme for this year’s Arbor Day event.

Betty Carter then read the poem, “Think Like a Tree,” before McGee and County Ranger Matt Gordon led the students in planting the two dogwoods.

“When you drive by, you’ll be able to say ‘that’s the tree I planted,'” McGee told the kids.

 

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Chris McGee, assistant county ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service, and County Ranger Matt Gordon led students in planting two Kousa Dogwood trees in honor of Dr. William "Bill" Williams.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Chris McGee, assistant county ranger with the North Carolina Forest Service, and County Ranger Matt Gordon led students in planting two Kousa Dogwood trees in honor of Dr. William “Bill” Williams.

 

Filed in: Education, Farm & Ag, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors, Public safety

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