Bill Williams, 90, pole-vaulter, musician, tale-teller

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The leader of the band is gone. William F. Williams, 90, died peacefully in his sleep on March 1, 2011, surrounded by his loving wife, Peggy, and an excellent support staff at the V.A. Hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was the island he loved, where he lived for more than 50 years and where he ran a successful business.

Born on June 9, 1920 and raised in Oak Park, he was a track star at Oak Park and River Forest High School and became the Big 10 champion pole-vaulter at the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1941.

Soon after graduating, he joined the 90-Day Wonders in the Navy and served three years on the USS Raleigh. He married Kathleen English in 1950 and settled in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they reared seven children. He spent countless hours around the dinner table charming the children with his loving tales of friends, relatives and experiences. He also took pleasure in teaching his nieces and nephews and grandkids the rules of life as he knew them: to be polite, nice to everyone, to be grateful for what you have and for each other.

When Kathleen died, Bill returned to Oak Park and met Margaret Montague. They married and Bill became a step-dad to Benjamin, Sarah, and Jeremiah. He loved being a husband to his second wife and was devoted to his new family, who brought laughter and life back for Bill. Peggy was his loving companion for the rest of his life. He had many hilarious stories and loved listening to jokes from kids of all ages. He looked for the joy and humor in life. His hearty laugh will be sorely missed.

Music enriched his life, and he played piano with professional musicians in his early days in Puerto Rico. Later, his children picked up instruments and joined the Latin/Dixieland band.

He played golf and taught anyone who would listen to him the joys of the game, and he enjoyed many rounds with friends and loved ones. More than anything Bill was loved and admired by so many because he was wise, knowledgeable, generous of heart, kind and loved unconditionally.

Bill Williams is survived by his wife, Margaret Montague; his sister, Marilyn; his daughters, Karen, Beth, Sally, and Josephine; and his sons, Bill Jr., Mark, Jeff, Jeremiah, and Ben. He was preceded in death by his wife, Kathleen, and his brothers, Robert and John.

Services were held in Puerto Rico and the family requests memorials to be made to any veterans association of choice.

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