Friday, August 20, 2010

Uncle Junior

This, my 600th post, is about the life of one ordinary man, Russ Williams, Jr. He was one of my stepmother’s brothers. There were ten siblings in all -- Cleo, Mildred, John, Margaret, Russ, Billy, Marvin, Faye, Fred, and Sue.

Russ, or “Uncle Junior” as we all called him, was the last surviving child of Papa Russ and Mama Pearl Cannon Williams. He died last Saturday, August 14th, in Carrollton, Texas, one day before he would have been 88 years, 8 months old. He had been married to Dorothy for 64 years. They had one child (a daughter, Carol), three grandchildren (Ben, Brent, and Michelle) and two great-grandchildren (Ella and Logan). His obituary in The Dallas Morning News contained the facts. But it didn’t come close to containing Uncle Junior. He loved to hunt. He loved to fish. He worked in his father’s cotton fields when he was young. He was a tall Texan with a hearty laugh. He grew rather deaf in his later years. He walked with a cane. None of that was in the obituary.

I may have told you some of this before. I came into the Williams clan when I was 17. After my mother died, my dad met Mildred Williams Houston, the widowed sister-in-law of Fritz Ihnfeldt, one of his co-workers at the aircraft factory. On June 6, 1958, Dad and Mildred were married. Dad and I moved from our house in Mansfield to Mildred’s house in Coppell, 30 miles away. It was a complete change of culture for me. I had been an only child with no relatives living within a thousand miles of our little family of three. Suddenly I was the middle one of five children, and the Williamses, all but one of whom lived in Dallas County, Texas, were together almost constantly. There was always a “passel of relatives” about. They loved being together, and it showed. Any time two or more members of the Williams clan gathered together (and there were usually a lot more), there was laughter and there were good times. Mama Pearl had passed away a few years earlier. Papa Russ, who worked at the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, was married again, to sweet Virginia, the hotel’s telephone switchboard operator.

Of the siblings, Margaret, a hairdresser and the wife of Fritz Ihnfeldt, died first and Sue, the youngest of all, died second, both of cancer. Billy also died of cancer. Cleo, J.D., Marvin. One by one they have all left us. Mildred died in 2004 at the age of 89. Fred, the youngest and tallest boy, died two years ago (cancer). Beautiful Aunt Faye died last fall in California (cancer); I wrote about her here.

With Dorothy’s and Carol’s help, a family friend put together a collection of 110 photographs from Junior’s life that I hope you take time to look at. Papa Russ and Mama Pearl are in there (#12), and all of the siblings (#13, #15, #50, #65, #66). (After you click on the link below, click the symbol at the lower left of the photo box for a full-screen presentation. The guy singing is Jim Reeves, I think.)

Russ Williams, Jr. (1921 - 2010)

In lieu of flowers, the family requested that memorial donations be made to the American Cancer Society.


  1. How lovely was that photo sequence - seeing a man's happy life pass before your eyes. And it reminds us of how very fleeting this life is. Perhaps like Russ himself you've both got to grab it with both hands and make sure that you cherish your nearest and dearest. So long Russ.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss, Rhymes.

  3. P.S. I agree with Yorkshire about the photos. Once the family went to color, there was no looking back, eh?

  4. Lovely to see those photos of Russ's life and the people he loved and who loved him. Sweet. Sorry for your loss, dear Robert.

  5. What wonderful tributes that sequence of photographs and your words make to this gentleman who obviusly celebrated and treasured his life to the utmost. x

  6. A wondeful if sad post, Bob, thank you for it. We should all hope to be remembered well enough to get the story beyond the obituary.

    I am sorry for your loss. Russ looks like the kind of man I would have liked to have had a beer with.

  7. I'm sorry to be so tardy in reading this, RWP. I send my sympathies for your loss. What a lovely tribute you wrote, and the Smilebox photo sequences were wonderful. I particularly enjoyed the photo of him sitting on Santa's lap, and the one of him wearing the huge sombrero.