Bill Williams: May 21, 1943 - May 12, 2019 - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, October 24, 2019
HomePoliticsBill Williams: May 21, 1943 – May 12, 2019

Bill Williams: May 21, 1943 – May 12, 2019

Former Rep. Bill Williams, who rose from being a council member in the City of Saxman to being the Co-Chair of House Finance, died on May 12, 2019 in Ketchikan. He was just shy of his 76th birthday.

Williams was born on May 21, 1943 in Ketchikan, where he lived all his days. He attended Ketchikan High School from 1958-62, and  while still in his 20s, he was elected to the City Council of Saxman. He  became mayor of Saxman in 1976 and served until 1983. In 1993, he was elected to the Alaska state House, and he became Finance co-chair in 2001 with former Rep. Eldon Mulder.

“I was fortunate to serve as Co-Chair of House Finance with Bill. He was a man of few words, but intense passion. He cared deeply about his hometown and his State. Today I lost a friend and Alaska lost a quiet statesman,” Mulder said.

Williams also chaired the House Transportation Committee, from 1997-1998; and House Resources Committee, 1993-1996;

Williams was a Republican. Speakers during his era in the Legislature included Ramona Barnes, Gail Phillips, Brian Porter, and Pete Kott.

James Armstrong worked for Williams over the years and remembers him as an “old soul, a gentle soul.” The two had a running joke about Armstrong being the “Nod Man,” who would wisely nod the affirmative to anything Williams would say.  Armstrong said he could always get Williams to “crack up” when he started nodding. The two became lifelong friends.

Williams was a member of Alaska Native Brotherhood and Saxman Tlingit & Haida.

Williams was elected in 1998 as a Democrat Representative and in 2000 as unopposed Republican Representative from District #1. He served in the House until 2004.

Married to Caryl, he was the father to  Steve, Mike, Krissy, David, Adam.

Sen. Bert Stedman offered a statement today:

“Representative Bill Williams was a strong voice for Southeast and Rural Alaska. He understood that political differences don’t need to divide Alaskans and took the lead on both subsistence and development issues. Bill was known for working with our federal delegation and governors to keep jobs in the Tongass. He was also a strong voice on subsistence and other Alaska Native issues. In the Capitol, Bill was known for keeping his word and putting Alaska’s interests above politics. My wife Lureen and I, and my current staff who worked for Representative Williams, are saddened by his loss.”

Editor’s note: Check back. This story will be updated with details about services and when the Alaska flag will be flown at half staff.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I am so sorry for the Williams’ family loss. Billy gave me my first job in Alaska in 1979. He was a trusted friend. God bless you, Brother.

  • I would like to offer my condolences to the family of Bill Williams. He was a long time acquaintance and friend of mine. He always insisted I call him “Billy”. A kind, gentle soul. An advocate for all things Alaskans. We will surely miss him.

  • Nodding yes for my boss Bill

  • My deepest condolences to the family of Bill. God bless you all.

  • Interestingly, when I Google-searched this story a few minutes ago, the one place I couldn’t find any coverage was in the Ketchikan Daily News. Various searches kept leading me to months-old or years-old stories about Lew Williams III instead.

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