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Mr. George Thomas Williams, 106, of Clinton, North Carolina, passed away on October 28, 2023. He was born to Effie Britt Williams and John Blaney Williams in Newton Grove, North Carolina, on August 29, 1917. His family moved from Newton Grove to Clinton when he was six months old.
George is survived by his wife of 49 years, Linda Rich Williams, his son George Thomas (Chip) Williams, Jr., his daughter Venetia Mann, her husband, Craig Mann, and his granddaughter Eva Barlowe.
He was predeceased by his first wife, Jane Fisher Williams, his sisters Sally Williams Lucas and Jane Williams Sheffield, his brothers Robert Edward Williams, Albert Garland Williams, John Blaney Williams, Jr., Charles Harper Williams, Hooper Luther Williams and Marshall Cox Williams.
George was a graduate of Clinton High School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In September 1940, George enrolled in the V-7 Class of US Naval Reserve. In November 1940, he reported to the Naval Base in Norfolk, Virginia, for a training cruise to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on the USS New York (BB-34). In March 1941, he reported to the U.S. Reserve Midshipman’s School at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, for further training in the V-7 program. Upon completion of training at Northwestern, George was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve on June 12, 1941. He was then assigned to the U.S. Naval Mine Warfare School in Yorktown, Virginia. After completing Mine Warfare School, he was assigned duty aboard the U.S.S. Chaffinch, a minesweeper stationed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard whose duty was to sweep the New York Harbor each day. In early 1942, George was assigned to the submarine base in New London, Connecticut, for duty patrolling the eastern entrance to the Long Island Sound. On June 15, 1942, he was promoted to Lieutenant (JG) and assigned permanent duty aboard the submarine chaser PC-489. The submarine chaser did convoy escort duty accompanying convoys from New York to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and from Guantanamo Bay to Recife, Brazil. George was promoted to Lieutenant while aboard PC-489 and was then ordered to report to the Submarine Chaser Training Center Command School in Miami, Florida. On June 18, 1943, he received orders for duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Cordele (PC-1125). The Cordele proceeded through the Panama Canal and up the coast of Mexico to San Diego, California, for a short stay to take on fuel and provisions, then proceeded to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. Upon arrival, the ship was stationed at a small island across the strait from Guadalcanal and provided patrol and escort duty of the area. In June of 1944, the U.S.S. Cordele was assigned to Task Group 53.16, an assault force for the attack on the island of Guam. On June 17, 1944, the ships of the Task Group 53.16 came under attack by Japanese torpedo planes. One ship was lost, but three of the Japanese planes were shot down. On October 27, 1944, George was detached as commanding office of the U.S.S. Cordele and ordered to report to Naval Training Center in Miami, Florida, for further assignment. On February 3, 1945, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Fessenden (DE-142), a destroyer escort, as Executive Officer. The U.S.S. Fessenden was part of an anti-submarine Hunter-Killer group composed of six destroyer escorts and a small aircraft carrier. The group operated in the North Atlantic Ocean and later was ordered to the Pacific. On October 3, 1945, George was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander. On November 23, 1945, he was released from duty on the U.S.S. Fessenden, which was at that time stationed at Wotje Atoll, Marshall Islands. The ship had been sent to supervise the surrender of the Japanese garrison stationed there.
After his discharge from the Navy, George returned to Chapel Hill and attended the UNC School of Law at the University of North Carolina, graduating in 1948. He then joined his brother, John Blaney Williams, in law practice at Williams and Williams Attorneys in Clinton and practiced law for 52 years. George and John Blaney were also partners in Williams and Williams Farms and were the founding partners of WRRZ radio company. A part of one of their farms was sold to become Lakewood Country Club in Roseboro/Salemburg and George and John Blaney developed the real estate around the country club.
George was involved in many civic and professional endeavors. He served on the Clinton City School Board in the 1960’s and was board chairman in the early 1970’s. He was an avid Tar Heel and served for 30 years as a member of the District II Selection Committee of the John Motley Morehead Scholarship Foundation. He also served for a number of years as a member of the Campbell University Board of Trustees. George served as a member of the Sampson-Duplin Mental Health Board. He was a member of the board of directors of United Carolina Bank and served as chairman of the local UCB board in Clinton. He was a lifelong member of the First Methodist Church in Clinton, serving as a Sunday school teacher and member of many committees.
In August 2017, Clinton mayor Lew Starling presented George with the Key to the City in honor of his 100th birthday.
Most people who knew George will remember him for his love of golf. In the 1920’s, the golf course in Clinton was just off of north Beaman Street in the area of the current Blount Street. Young George and his family lived on Beaman Street, which was located near the course, and he began playing golf at an early age. He would take tree limbs and shave them into golf clubs. As Mr. Festus Turlington would drive down Beaman Street to the early golf course, George would jump on the running board of Mr. Turlington’s car and ride to the golf course to caddy for Mr. Turlington. He has been a member of Coharie County Club since 1948 and won the club championship tournament 20 times. A bronze plaque honoring George was placed at the course putting green in 2017 to honor him on his 100th birthday. In November 2014, he was inducted into the Sampson County Sports Club Hall of Fame.
The family would like to thank the caregivers for their loving care of George.
Memorials may be made to First Methodist Church at 208 Sampson Street, Clinton, North Carolina, or to a charity of your choice.
A service celebrating his life will be held this Thursday, November 2, at 3:30pm, First Methodist Church, Clinton, North Carolina with Rev. Matt Seals officiating. Burial will follow with military honors in the Clinton Cemetery. The family will receive friends following the service at the cemetery.
Royal-Hall is honored to serve the Williams family.