P-I family dies
W. Bryant Williams
Bryant Williams, longtime publisher, guided newspaper for nearly 20
Published: Friday, July 24, 2009 12:42 PM CDT
W. Bryant Williams, editor emeritus of The Post-Intelligencer, died
at his home Thursday afternoon at age 95.
His funeral will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church
with burial in Memorial Cemetery. Officiating will be the Revs.
Jenna Goggins, the church pastor, and Doug Scott, who grew up in the
Pallbearers will be grandsons-in-law Jim Barnett and Doug Ray; and
great-grandsons Jeremy Maxwell, Daniel Williams, Matthew Williams
and Adam Ray.
Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Rotary Club.
Visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Saturday at McEvoy Funeral Home and
after 1 p.m. Sunday at the church.
Williams followed his father as editor and publisher of The P-I. He
grew up in the family business, went to work full-time upon
graduation from high school and, except for Army service in World
War II and four years spent with a newspaper in Columbia, he worked
at The P-I until his retirement in 1978 at the age of 64.
He was succeeded as editor and publisher by his son, Bill, now
retired; and later by his grandson, Michael, the current editor and
Bryant Williams was publisher of the newspaper from 1951 to 1956 and
again from 1960 to 1978, the two periods separated by his work in
Born in the Birmingham suburb of Ensley, Ala., on June 30, 1914, he
was the second of seven children of W. Percy and Lucy Cowan
Williams. The family moved to Paris from Alabama in 1927; he
graduated from Grove High School in 1932.
After retirement, his “Post Mortems” columns of local history served
as the basis for a tape-recorded walking tour of downtown Paris. The
columns were published in booklet form in three volumes by the Henry
County Historical Society.
He enlisted in the Army in 1943, won a lieutenant’s commission and
served in Europe as an anti-aircraft platoon leader with Patton’s
Third Army. He won the Bronze Star for meritorious service.
He was a civic leader, serving variously as president of the Chamber
of Commerce, and the Lions and Rotary clubs. He was a charter member
of the Elks Lodge and of the Young Business Men’s Club, the Chamber
of Commerce forerunner. He helped organize the Food Bank, the Sports
Hall of Fame, the People for Progress city beautification group, the
Salvation Army service unit and the Rotary scholarship program.
He shared the Chamber of Commerce “person of the year” award with
two others in 1964 for their work in industrial development. In 1997
he received both the city’s Marquis de Paris award and the DAR
Community Service Award. The Betsy Ross Foundation of Allegro Fine
Foods named a scholarship for him.
Williams served as president of the Tennessee Press Association in
1970-71 and was recognized for distinguished service with the
Governor’s committee for the Employment of the Handicapped.
First Presbyterian Church recognized him for 50 years of service as
a church elder in 1992, and at his death he was the longest-serving
elder in the congregation’s history. He joined the church at age 12,
held many offices in it and was ordained as a deacon as well as an
He was married in 1933 to his high school sweetheart, the former
Julia Sensing. She died in June 2008, three months before the couple
would have observed their 75th wedding anniversary.
He is also survived by a brother, the Rev. Ernest (LaVerne) Williams
of Hutchinson, Kan., and two sisters, Eunice Clark of Fulton, Ky.,
and Jeane Herrmann of Lisle, Ill.
Other survivors are a daughter-in-law, Bill's wife, Anne; three
granddaughters: Cindy Barnett of Murray, Julie Ray of Tuscaloosa,
Ala., and Joan Stevens of Paris; a granddaughter-in-law, Michael's
wife, Evonne; 11 great-grandchilden; and two
Friday, July 24, 2009
My dad epitomized 'greatest generation'
By BILL WILLIAMS
Dan Brokaw called the people of Bryant Williams’ time “the greatest
generation.” And for good reason.
They were toughened by the Great Depression, which taught them that
it’s possible to survive on very little.
They fought and won the most terrible war in the history of mankind,
which taught them that great purposes are worth great struggles.
Those two lessons, how to exist in great adversity and how to
achieve victory against improbable odds, served Bryant Williams
Despite the pressures of running a newspaper that knew nothing about
a 40-hour week, he threw himself into the service of the community
that had been his home since boyhood. That litany of activity is
detailed elsewhere in this edition.
But life is not described by such things. Being president of this
group and recipient of that honor is fine, but the title of
“greatest” requires more.
In the life of Bryant Williams, that “something more” quality was
once pinpointed by his nephew, Jimmy Williams: Integrity.
My father was a man you could depend on. Once he took on an
obligation you could rest assured that the job would be done. If he
said a thing was so, it was so.
Those broad shoulders sometimes bore the brunt of family problems,
where he was looked up to as the elder brother, the uncrowned chief
of the clan.
His was not a brute strength, though, for he had a tender heart.
When he perceived that he might have offended someone, which
inevitably happens from time to time in the newspaper business, it
bothered him. He spent sleepless nights agonizing over what might
have been done, and I admire him for that sensitivity.
About five years ago, I told him he was the man I wanted to be when
I grow up, and I meant it.
I feel sorry for new friends who only saw him as an enfeebled old
man. It must be difficult for them to comprehend how he could be
among the greatest. But believe me, he was.
There walked a lion.
Bill Williams is editor emeritus of The Post-Intelligencer.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Bryant was a true gentleman
By JOE HENDRIX
To the editor:
It was a hot August day and a young politician was traveling through
He stopped at a small country store somewhat like Bernice Rainey’s
Jones Mill. An old man was sitting on a bench in front of the store
The young politician gave the old man his campaign card. The old man
looked up, but he did read the card.
He said, “I don’t believe I’ve heard of you, son.” This made the
politician angry, him being somewhat arrogant and self-centered.
He said, “You mean sir, you have never heard of me? I have
represented you in
this state for the past four years.”
The old man looked up and said, “Son, I don’t know how famous you
but the weather will always determine how many people attend your
I knew Bryant Williams for more than 60 years. He was a “gentle”
man, a man of
integrity, a true gentleman. The weather certainly would not
determine how many
would attend Mr. Bryant Williams’ funeral.
He was a part of our greatest generation. He met his final deadline
1239 W. Wood St.
Monday, July 27, 2009 ~ The Paris Post-Intelligencer