May 19, 2008 Bakersfield Kern County California, USA
Robert Leonard Williams 1921 - 2008 Robert Leonard Williams August 8, 1921 - May 19, 2008 Robert L. Williams passed away on May 19, 2008 surrounded by his family in Bakersfield. He was born August 8, 1921, on a homestead in Baca County, Colorado to Clyde and Ada Williams. He rode his horse Dexter to North Liberty School in Springfield, CO. In 1934 the family moved to Redlands, CA, where he graduated from Redlands High in 1938 and San Bernardino Junior College in 1940. In 1941, Bob went to Washington, DC, where he attended Georgetown University, while also working on the Capitol Police Force. In 1943, after his graduation from Georgetown, he joined the service as a Navy Ensign. After attending Midshipman's school at Notre Dame, Bob served in WWII, finishing the war as a Senior Grade Lieutenant in the South Pacific. On June 15, 1944, he was awarded the Bronze Star, Medal of Combat, for the invasion of Saipan, to go along with his Asiatic-Pacific and World War II Victory awards. In 1994, he returned to Saipan for the 50th Anniversary of the invasion, and he and a few other military men were able to still walk the parade route. He thoroughly enjoyed that trip. Bob also served in Korea from 1952 - 1954 and was awarded the United Nations Service Medal and Korean Service Medal (2 stars). He stayed in the Naval Reserve and retired in 1969 as a Lieutenant Commander. In 1946, Bob returned to Washington, DC and worked as a sergeant for the Capitol Police while he attended Georgetown University Law School. After graduating from law school in 1949, he returned to California to begin his law practice. That year he began practicing with Roland Woodruff. After Woodruff and Williams ended he was a sole practitioner, until 1976. He was then joined in the practice by his son, Robert S. Williams, with whom he practiced law as Williams & Williams, until retiring in 2004. His son-in-law, Terrance McMahon, was with the firm from 1996 to 2007. Bob served as a bankruptcy trustee for many years. Bob met the love of his life, Betsy, in Santa Barbara, and they married in 1950. They have four children, Robert, Laurel, Steven and Linda, and later a third daughter, Michelle, joined the family. Bob always loved sports and in particular professional baseball and Bakersfield College sports programs. In 1956 when professional baseball was about to leave Bakersfield, he and other investors formed Bakersfield Baseball Boosters, Inc., which kept minor league baseball in Bakersfield. He served as secretary of the team and later as president was instrumental in bringing the Los Angeles Dodgers farm team to Bakersfield in 1968. He was the California League attorney for many years and in 1971 was honored as national Minor League Executive of the Year for his work with the Dodgers. He thoroughly enjoyed running the baseball team and spent many summer nights with his friends at the ball park. He was also very active in Bakersfield College Renegade sports. For many years he attended Renegade sporting events and assisted the teams with financial support of the players by hiring them on the weekends. He was also active in the 20-30 Club, Lions Club, Navy League, Naval Reserve, American Legion and the Kern County Bar Association. For more than 50 years Bob rarely missed his morning meeting with his coffee group, "The Godfathers". He made life-long friends from this group and with his and Betsy's Bridge Club, which consisted of six couples, who met monthly without fail for nearly 50 years. He is survived by his wife, Betsy and children, Robert S. Williams and wife, Susan, Laurel McMahon and husband, Terrance, Steven Williams and partner, Dennis Lileikis, Linda Gutcher and husband, Tom, and Michelle Prokuski, and by the grandchildren: Jacob Vaughn, Jaclynn Clay, Robert C. Williams, Shanda and Patrick McMahon, Laura and Sarah Gutcher, and Bryson, Tyler, and Hannah Prokuski, and great-grandson, Asher Vaughn. He is also survived by his sister, Mary Brack, Overland Park, KS; brother, Louie Williams, Grand Prairie, TX and many nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Leo and Brian and sisters, Lucille Wright and Winnie Morey. His family would like to give a special thanks to the caring staff at Glenwood Gardens, particularly Holly Love. Bob Williams was truly a strong, capable, self-made man, a good attorney and businessman, and most of all a loving husband, father and friend. He was truly one of the "Greatest Generation". Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 27, at Greenlawn Mortuary, 3700 River Blvd. Services are at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 28, at Wesley United Methodist Church, 3030 Niles St. Interment is at Greenlawn Cemetery at 2:00 p.m. with full military honors. Donations in Bob's memory may be made to Navy League, Bakersfield Council, P.O. Box 169, Mojave, CA 93502-0169.
Published in the Bakersfield Californian from 5/25/2008 - 5/27/2008.