In Memoriam ...

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Theodore N. Williams,  Jr.
1952-2015

 

– from local sources

Attorney Theodore Nathaniel Williams, Jr., Partner Emeritus of the law firm Williams Hughes, PLLC, passed away on November 2, 2015. He is sorely missed by his family, friends, colleagues and the community, as his integrity, strength and work ethic led him to be a tireless and trusted advocate, partner, colleague, boss, mentor and friend.


Ted Williams was engaged in the practice of law since 1981.  He had an active general civil practice involving representation of various institutions in the Muskegon County area as well as representing individuals in various types of litigation.  He engaged in employment, personal injury and discrimination litigation.  He also represented clients in labor relations matters, including contract negotiations, arbitration, mediation and unfair labor practice proceedings. Some of his clients included the City of Muskegon Heights, the County of Muskegon, the Muskegon Oceana Community Action Partnership (MOCAP), the Muskegon Heights Housing Commission, and the Muskegon Heights Public Schools.  He also served as a Special Assistant Attorney General on behalf of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Although he accomplished so much of which to be proud, Theodore Williams, Jr. was a humble man whose greatest source of pride and joy was found in the family he adored. Well known throughout his community, he was hardworking, well-respected, and a successful advocate for others. Ted was a devoted father, but he just may have argued that nothing was better than becoming a grandfather. Never one to let life get the best of him, he was a man of great courage and strength - an inspiration to all who were near.

The attorney’s parents were Theodore N. Williams, a jack of all trades and construction contractor, and Willie Mae Rozell Williams,  a nurse’s aide. When Theodore Nathaniel Jr. drew his first breath, in Muskegon in January 1952, he was the second of five children:  his older sister was Shirley, and his younger siblings were Roderick, Cynthia, and Nannetta.

The young man developed a love for reading, especially for comic books, and at one time he planned on being a writer. He started playing organized football in ninth grade for Muskegon Heights High School, a gifted athlete who was always on the first string of whatever team he played for. In football he was a linebacker and fullback, and he also ran track in the spring. In addition to holding down his studies, Ted worked at the A&P Grocery Store while in high school.

After graduating from Muskegon Heights High School,  Williams went on to Western Michigan University where he was a walk-on starter for the freshman football team. He was a good student who worked as a teacher’s assistant and taught some classes, too. After graduating from WMU, he continued on to Penn State University. After two years there, he graduated with a Masters Degree in Psychology and returned to Muskegon.

Williams initially began working for Muskegon County in the human resources department and soon became very involved with the community. He was active in the Urban League and Affirmative Action programs. 

He decided to go to law school to become an attorney. Attorney Ben Marcus was always impressed by him and promised Williams a position in his law firm after he graduated. After he received his juris doctor from Wayne State University, he was admitted to the State Bar of Michigan on February 9, 1981, and was also admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Williams returned to Muskegon and joined Marcus’s firm. The firm that now bears Williams’s name was formerly known as Marcus, Ruck, Halbower and Flynn and was started in 1972.
Some called him a genius as he had an extensive memory and could recall cases, rules, and regulations from the multitude of projects that he worked on through the years. 

At the time, some called him a genius as he had an extensive memory and could recall cases, rules, and regulations from the multitude of projects that he worked on through the years. 

Soon after his return, he met Marfay Dodd; they were married, and in 1980 their daughter, Syreeta, was born. That marriage lasted 16 years. 

His daughter, now Syreeta Johnson of Avon, Connecticut, married to Keith and grandchildren Keith Henry Theodore Johnson Jr. and Alexandra Clare Johnson survive him, along with stepson Herrick Kimball and grandchildren Sydnei and Kyren.

Williams battled with health issues all his life. He suffered from asthma, and unfortunately the medication he took to help caused other issues. Over the years Ted was in and out of the hospital numerous times, but despite these challenges, he never let it get him down and continued working long hours. Through it all, he continued to be passionate about his work, too.

Throughout his career, Ted Williams remained an active member of the community.  He was a member of the Urban League, serving on its board and as its president.  He was the founding president of the Muskegon Heights Jaycees, and served as a member of the Public Utility Rate Commission, the Muskegon Catholic Social Services Board and the Michigan Employment Security Advisory Council.  He was also a member of the Muskegon County Bar Association, the Michigan Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers, the American Bar Association and the National Bar Association.

In his office at Williams Hughes, PLLC, hung two quotes from Vincent Lombardi, both of which illustrate his dedication and depth of character:

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”

“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”

Ted Williams inspired those around him with his strength of will and his commitment to excellence.  Williams Hughes, PLLC mourns his loss, and extends its deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Funeral services for Ted were Saturday, November 7, 2015, with visitation one hour prior to the service at Angel Community Church, Rev. Chris Sanford officiating.
 
Donations may be sent to Wayne State University Law School Development, 471 W. Palmer, Detroit, MI 48202, in memory of Theodore Williams Jr.

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