Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Dr. W. Don Williams, of Huntington, passed away the day following his 86th birthday on December 4, 2013 at Madison Park Personal Care Facility where he had been receiving loving care for the past year. Born to Robert C. Williams and Grace Boyd Williams in Akron, Ohio, Don grew up in Yukon, WV in McDowell County, where he attended public schools and graduated from Big Creek High School after dropping out to join the US Navy during World War II. Upon his return from his service in the Navy, Don attended Concord College where he once again left school to serve in the US Air Force. While in the Air Force he married the former, Clara Taylor from Duhring, WV. Don often said the combination of becoming married to Clara and the US Air Force caused him to get his life in order. He returned to Concord and while obtaining his Bachelors Degree was a WVIAC All Conference Tackle for the Mountain Lions football team.
Don continued his education by obtaining his Master's Degree from West Virginia University and his Doctorate in Education Administration from Virginia Tech.
Don served 40 years teaching in the West Virginia Public Schools and Higher Education. He retired in 1995.
Don coached high school and college sports for 19 years. Don was an assistant football, track, and basketball coach at Bluefield High School for two years in 1955 and 1956. Don became the Head Football Coach at RB Worthy High School in Saltville, Virginia in 1957 where he won the State of Virginia District High School Football Championships in 1957 and 1958.
In 1959, Don returned to his Alma Mater, Concord College (now Concord University) as the Head Football Coach and Head Track Coach. During his 14 years at Concord, affectionately known as “Big Don”, he won the first WVIAC Football Championships in school history in 1962 and 1966. He also recruited the first black athletes in school history to compete at Concord in 1964. Don coached 26 All Conference players and 2 All Americans. While at Concord he had the first all weather track built in the State of West Virginia. Don was a two time Morgantown Touchdown Club Coach of the Year in 1962 and 1966.
After leaving coaching in 1969, Don attended Virginia Tech to complete his Doctorate in Education Administration. In 1972, Dr. Robert Hayes, the then Dean of the College of Education at Marshall University, recruited Don to Marshall to be a professor in the Department of Physical Education and Head Track Coach. Don coached track for two years and again negotiated the construction a new all weather track to be constructed at Marshall.
Don left coaching in 1974 and spent the balance of his years in the classroom and sought to expand the Phys Ed Department to a more active and market driven division. He became Chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Dance. During his years as Chair the Department established degree programs athletic training, sports administration, and an ongoing curriculum and research in sports medicine with the Marshall University College of Medicine.
After his years in athletics as a student athlete, coach, and administrator…Don was honored by Concord University by being inducted in the Concord University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997. Don was in turn honored by Marshall University by being inducted in the Marshall University Sports Medicine Hall of Fame in 2004.
Don completed his career at Marshall University by serving as the Director of the Robert C. Byrd Institute for Research and Economic Development.
Don was a faithful member of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church.
Don was married to Clara for 62 years. He is survived by two sons, Steve (and wife Mary) Williams of Huntington, WV and Marc (and wife Nancy) Williams also of Huntington, WV. Don has two grandsons Benjamin Williams a senior at Tulane University and Wyatt a student at Meadows Elementary. Don also has three step grandchildren, Nikki Urban of Fremont, Michigan, Laura Urban of Charlotte, NC and Alex Spiegelberg a student at St. Joseph High School in Huntington.
Don is survived by his loving wife, sons and grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. His only sister Peggy Pruitt lives in Tyler, Texas.
Don had several titles…Coach, Doc, Dad, husband, Granddad. Through it all he stood with principle, dignity, and integrity. Whether coaching or teaching he stressed to his athletes that they were students first and athletes second. His legacy lives on in his sons, his grandchildren and the thousands of students and athletes who have become national and state leaders in academia, athletics, business, and community affairs.
Visitation will be held at Klingel-Carpenter Mortuary in Huntington on Sunday, December 8 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM. Funeral services will be conducted by the Rev. Dr. Allen Reasons at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church on Monday, December 9 at 12:00 Noon.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Dr. Don Williams Endowed Scholarship with the Marshall University Big Green Scholarship Fund.
Family guest book at www.klingelcarpenter.com.