James W. "Pete" Williams, Sr.
March 7, 1932 - February 5, 2023
James W. “Pete” Williams, Sr., passed peacefully into eternal life on February 5, 2023, at the age of 90 years young. A whip-smart prankster, Bluebell ice cream connoisseur, and devoted family man, Pete was born to Euliss and Johanna on March 7, 1932. He grew up in the Pine Ridge Community of St. Helena Parish, where he met the love of his life, Audrey Blades. They married in 1955 and spent almost 65 beautiful years together, raising four children. Their love story was one for the ages. His tenacity and humor won over the valedictorian and high school cheerleader, and when she suggested dating around, he kindly offered to join her on those dates. Even in her final days, as she fought a raging battle with dementia, he was there, holding her hand and protecting her heart.
Following an honorable discharge from the United States Air Force, he retired after 36 years working at the James Rivers Papermill. He was a self-made man, born to modest means, and worked tirelessly to give his family a better life. He was often found sporting his signature sweatband and red handkerchief, toiling in his yard and taking pride in the repair of his home. There was something indescribable and irreplaceable about Pete. Was it the twinkle in his eye and the joke that lay constantly at the edge of his lips? Perhaps it was the echoes of laughter ringing out in his wake? Part of it, certainly, was his effortless way of making you feel right at home in his presence, a warm handshake and mischievous grin ever there to greet you. In a crowded room, everyone was drawn to Pete Williams. A man of honor, charm, and humor with a hard-working sensibility that he instilled in his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He was an expert vegetable gardener, southern home-cooking aficionado, class clown, back yard fort builder, newspaper comic enthusiast, little league coach, golfer, and passionate LSU fan. During certain games, you might even have caught him cheering on the court with the LSU cheerleaders. Constantly telling jokes, often at his own expense, he filled his life and the lives of others with abounding joy at every opportunity. He had a soulful and compassionate way of listening, an enveloping hug that could cure any heartache, and lived his life in selfless service to others. There is nobody on Earth like Pete. His loss is profound and as far-reaching as each and every smile he sent into the world during his time here. We find solace in his long-awaited reunion with his soulmate, Audrey, whom he has so dearly missed since her passing in 2021. And with sorrow, we bid farewell to everyone’s favorite joker and the greatest man we’ve ever known. Until we meet again, “I’ll see you in the funny papers.”
James W. “Pete” Williams, a member of First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge, is survived by his sons James W. “Rusty” Williams, Jr. (Mary); Randal Williams; daughters Mari Ellen Wintz (Al); Sheryl “Sherry” Williams-Jenkins; grandchildren Adam Childers; William “Will” Wintz; Alison Balkey; Jamie Sillivent; Michele Solomon; Chad Williams; Nicole Williams; Charles “CJ” Jenkins; Luke Jenkins; great-grandchildren Sarah and William “Liam” Wintz; Noah Childers; Grey and Micah Balkey; Gage and Ryker Sillivent; Brooks Solomon; Ann Louise Jenkins.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Euliss Richard Williams, Sr., and Johanna "Totsy" Phillips Williams; brothers, Euliss Richard Williams, Jr., Charles Hubert Williams, and Willie Irvin Williams; sisters, Vivian Williams Young, Veda Williams Valentine, Mary Williams Boeneke, Susie Williams Reeves, Sadie Mae Williams Carter and Zelma Lea Williams Welch; son-in-law Charles “Chuck” Jenkins; and grandson John Randal Williams.
Visitation at Pine Ridge United Methodist Church from 4:00PM until 7:00PM on Friday, and from 9:00AM until religious services at 11:00AM on Saturday, February 11, 2023. Services conducted by Rev. Dr. Michael Townsend. Interment Pine Ridge Cemetery, Kentwood, LA.
Donations can be made to Pine Ridge United Methodist Church or the Audrey and Pete Williams Social Work Field Education Scholarship at SLU. Check/money orders may be made out to and mailed to the Southeastern Foundation at SLU 10293, Hammond, LA 70402. Credit card donations may be made online at www.southeastern.edu/givenow. Select "Other" for Designation and type in Audrey and Pete Williams scholarship. Or you may call (985) 549-5356.
McKneely Funeral Home, Amite, in charge of arrangements.
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