Willoughby Williams ’39 was for decades a stalwart Rice man, one of those alums who show up for everything and contribute more than their fair share. He worked diligently, even passionately, to make the university better. He served as the president of the Association of Rice Alumni in the semi-centennial year of 1962 and was an active and long-serving member of the Rice Fund Council. You can see his class ring in this portrait:
Mr. Williams’s most important contribution to Rice, though, may well have been his work as one of the major forces behind the creation of the ARA Historical Commission in the mid-1970s. This volunteer group managed to accumulate an impressive collection of memorabilia and reminiscences from the early classes, a collection that I am just now discovering. Williams sadly did not live to see the fruit of this effort, but after his sudden death in 1977 it continued in his name. This touching tribute to him appeared in the second newsletter produced by the Commission:
Oddly enough, this has something to do with the arrival of the new freshmen this week, as the start of Willoughby Williams’s long relationship with Rice is recorded in a clipping I found in Mary Jane Hale Rommel’s scrapbook. It’s not an especially auspicious beginning:
Next to the clippings is this photograph of a poor slime:
I looked at this picture for quite a while. Then I spent some time looking at the portrait above. Then I looked back at the kid in the dress and I thought, you know, that could be him. Except for the glasses. Then I went and looked up his picture in the Campanile:
I think that’s him.
We will not forget Willoughby Williams.
Bonus: Remember this picture from a post I wrote earlier this summer? That’s him holding the calculator.