Wednesday, May 31, 2023
12:00 PM EDT
8740 S. Westnedge Ave.
Portage, MI 49002
Burial in the church memorial garden and a reception will follow.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Deeply committed to his family, Dick Williams’ life will be remembered as both loving and selfless. Born with an infectious personality, he was an exceptional educator and leader in his field touching the lives of countless students and their families. Equipped with a strong work ethic as well as an ability to work alongside a wide variety of people over the years, led to many successes throughout his life. Although he will be deeply missed, Dick leaves behind a rich collection of wonderful memories for all who knew and loved him.
The Thirties were marked by tough economic times, yet the decade also saw an expansion of new technologies. By 1937, Amelia Earhart attempted to achieve a flight around the world and California’s Golden Gate Bridge was completed. Bringing great joy to their own world, Richard “Dick” was born to Robert Joseph “Joe” and Mary Catherine (Kerr) Williams in Freeburn, Kentucky on April 7th. His birth brought them many promises in an ever-changing world.
Growing up in a coal mining camp, Dick’s childhood was blessed with many fond memories. He spent much of his time outdoors swimming in the river, riding bikes, and hanging out with other children of the local coal miners. One childhood friend, Della, was special to him and by the time they were in high school, they were inseparable. Before attending college, he served in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1958. He then attended college at the University of Kentucky to receive his education degree, and then he and Della joined in marriage. They welcomed home their two boys, Rob and Tom, completing their family.
A strong provider, Dick first taught in a two-room schoolhouse with his aunt in West Virginia, before moving to Michigan to continue the rest of his career. His level of commitment to his students caught the attention of others. Earning his Master's in Education at Eastern Michigan University, and pouring himself into his work, he never settled for less than the best for his students. Dick’s reputation was well known for having high expectations for his students and he was later recruited to become principal for Eaton Rapids. Described as firm but fair, Dick was well respected by his students and colleagues. He was known to keep a small shoe wrapped in tape in his pocket to use as a paddle on occasion. No one ever questioned his dedication to his students and their families. A testimony to the impression he left on others was being recognized and visited by former students for many years after they graduated. Dick retired after forty-two years in education in 2007. During retirement, he and Della moved from Eaton Rapids to Portage to be closer to their family. During retirement, Dick enjoyed working as a student-teacher advisor for Olivet College. With his wealth of knowledge and experience, he was a blessing to the program.
Dick and Della lived a beautiful life together for sixty-two remarkable years. As a family, they enjoyed spending their summers near the water and trips back to Kentucky to visit family. With his summers off, he treasured teaching his kids how to catch and hit a baseball and never turned down an afternoon of playing in the yard together. Having every summer off, summers were always full of activity and seemed to last forever. Highlights of their growing years were taking trips in the RV with him and Della. They always had the best time despite their memories of cockroaches and the sewage lines backing up on occasion! Any amount of time he was with his family, his heart was content.
Dick was a cherished grandpa. He enjoyed spoiling the grandkids with cookies and treats each time they visited. Dick also liked to take them to school with him sometimes to spend the day with him. They fondly remember his wisdom and advice. He spoke so eloquently, they could talk to him for hours. Dick never took a single day for granted and was always there for his family. Dick was immensely proud of his kids and grandkids and taught them the value of education and family.
As much as Dick enjoyed his career and family, he also enjoyed the simple pleasures in life. He savored long walks along the beach whenever they visited Lake Michigan. An avid reader, he could read anything as long as it was about history. Reading made him knowledgeable on just about any topic. Dick loved having conversations and sharing what he was reading. Active throughout his life, he never missed his daily runs with his best friend, Jerry. Whenever his family was together, they were sure to hear a good story or gain some sage advice! His loving guidance and wisdom made any event one to remember. Sadly, he is gone. May the wisdom he shared and the kindness he modeled live on in the hearts of the countless lives he touched for generations to come.
Richard “Dick” Williams, age 86, of Portage, Michigan, died on May 22, 2023. Surviving are his wife, Della; children: Rob (Kathy Alizo) Williams and Tom (Tayler Denniston) Williams; grandchildren: Allyson (Bryce) Maurer, Alec Williams, Ashleigh Williams, Andrew Williams; great-granddaughter, Eleanor Maurer; brother-in-law, Carl Butler; and niece, Anita Butler. He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Elizabeth Butler.
A visitation will be held Wednesday, May 31 from 11 AM – 12 PM at Pathfinder Church, 8740 S. Westnedge Ave., Portage. The funeral service will begin at 12 PM. Burial in the memorial garden and a reception will follow. Visit Dick’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and to sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Pathfinder Church. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo (269) 375-2900.