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Ellis Ray Williams, Sr.


Ellis Ray Williams, Sr. was born in Newberry, South Carolina in 1921 and moved to Gary, West Virginia in 1928 to take advantage of economic and educational opportunities. The scholastic and athletic excellence Williams demonstrated at an early age continued at Bluefield State College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and Social Studies.

He earned a master’s degree in Sociology and Industrial Education from West Virginia University and a Certificate of Advanced Studies in Education from Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University.

Williams joined the United States Army Enlisted Reserve Corp in 1942. Following completion of combat training, he entered the WWII European Theatre in August 1944 and served in the distinguished 777th Field Artillery Battalion, 9th Army as a Tech 5, C Battery forward observer radio operator.  He served nine months of combat duty in the Roer Valley, Rhine River and Battle of the Bulge. 

Following his military service, Williams enjoyed a long career with the McDowell County Board of Education as a teacher, coach and principal. He has served on the Wyoming County Board of Education, at Bluefield State College, in the West Virginia Department of Interior and as a member of the West Virginia Community Action Directors Association.

The recipient of numerous formal awards for his work in education and human rights, Williams has a powerful history of leadership, civic responsibility and community service. A strong advocate for education, he believes in raising the intellectual aspirations of students, cultivating their innate potential, stressing the importance of tolerance in a multi-ethnic society and teaching to individual and group needs. At age 97, Williams is still an active member of the Alpha Upsilon Boule of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the Bluefield State College Alumni Association, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, the Kimball Memorial Building board and the Tug River Health Association board.