Williams joined the UPJ faculty in 1970 as an instructor of anthropology. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1973, associate professor in 1976 and to professor in 1994. From January 1980 to December 1981 he also served as director of the Centre for Social Research at the University of Malawi, Zomba, Malawi.
Williams earned an A.B. in biology in 1964 from Brown University, was a community health and organization fellow from 1968 to 1972 at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and earned a Ph.D. in anthropology in 1976 from Pitt.
In his 30-year career at the University, Williams served as president of the UPJ Faculty Senate, chairperson of the UPJ faculty status and tenure committees, a member of the Faculty Senate Council and as a member of the University Planning and Budget Committee. This year he was appointed chair of the UPJ promotion to full professor committee.
Williams's doctoral research was conducted in Cambria County on the culture of the coal miner. He received a National Science Foundation Grant in 1969 to study Samoans who had immigrated to the San Francisco Bay area. He served from 1990 to 1992 on the Folklife Division of America's Industrial Heritage Project. He was a fellow of the American Anthropological Society.
Williams was the author of "Bambo Jordan," published in 1994. He was co-author of "Upward Struggle," a history of the labor movement in Johnstown, which he completed for the Pennsylvania State Bicentennial Commission and the Johnstown Regional Central Labor Council, and a video, "We'll Make the Journey: The African-American Story of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Migration and Work."
Williams is survived by his wife, Claire; a son, Ian; a daughter, Alison, and his mother, Mary Williams.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Johnstown Educational Foundation, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Johnstown, PA 15904, or the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, 216 Franklin St., Johnstown 15901.
via University Times