ACU Remembers: Dr. Kenneth Williams

ACU Ken WilliamsLongtime former biology professor Dr. Kenneth Buck Williams (’50) died May 8 at age 84 in Abilene.

He was born Jan. 18, 1930, in Petersburg, Texas, and graduated from high school in Durango, Colo. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from ACU in 1950, a master’s degree in botany from the The University of Texas in 1959, and a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Arizona in 1970.

He married Norma Jean Tomlinson (’53) on June 6, 1952, in Canyon, and the couple lived in Waco while he served in the Air Force during the Korean War. He enjoyed farming throughout his life and was a longtime member of Abilene’s University Church of Christ.

Williams joined the ACU faculty as associate professor of biology in 1967, retiring officially in 1992 as professor emeritus of biology but continuing to teach part time until 2001. For years he taught a marine biology field course during summer sessions in Mexico, and regularly accompanied students on road trips to study botany, zoology and geology at historical sites in 14 western states and Canada, and on marine biology field courses in Mexico. He was founding curator of a herbarium in ACU’s Foster Science Building, and also taught summer courses in biology, botany and pre-nursing for 19 years at the Navajo Nation’s Diné College in Tsaile, Ariz.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Willie Benjamin and Evelyn Isabelle (McClintock) Williams; twin infant brothers, and a son, Brad Williams. Among survivors are Norma Jean, his wife of 61 years; a daughter, Sharol “Cherri” (Williams ’75) Goad and her husband, Jamie Dale Goad (’75), D.D.S.; a son, Mark Williams (’78); two brothers, Kevin Williams (’59) and former ACU art professor Dr. Arthur Williams; three sisters, Bennie Belle (Williams ’51) Price, Marquisette (Williams ’62) Strand and Priscilla Dick; and two grandchildren, Briton Sharod Goad (’03) and Adrian Jarrod Goad (’06).

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  1. Dan Brannan
    Posted May 23, 2014 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    He was a good friend and mentor.

  2. Posted June 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I worked for him in the herbarium in the mid-1970s and took several classes. He was a good influence on my life.

  3. Jason Peters
    Posted July 1, 2014 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    He was one of the greatest influencers in my life. I have such fond memories of Big Bend and Monahans because of him. Rest in peace, Doc.

  4. Clay Bassham
    Posted July 5, 2014 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Professor, mentor, friend and outstanding person … he will be missed but not forgotten. I look forward to seeing him in heaven.

  5. Tim Smith
    Posted September 11, 2014 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    I took numerous classes from Ken and worked under him as a botany lab proctor for two years. This was a quiet, unassuming man revealing God’s creation and teaching his students to approach their work with rigor and focus. People should be aware of Ken’s courage and mental anguish during the attack on him by Apologetics Press in 1985. It devastated him to think that by simply teaching the best science he knew, he could be labeled as somehow “unchristian”. I will never forget his tears if bewilderment and also the courage he showed despite the ugliness that confronted him. Thank God Ken endured the calumny and ACU supported him through that time. Thank you, Ken, for your example, strength, and courage.

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