Tribute to Ernest Williams, III

Ernest Bland Williams III, age 79, a Memphis attorney, died April 20, 2008 at Saint Thomas Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee of complications from a bicycle accident in October 2007.

He was born in Memphis, TN on August 9, 1928 to Anne and Ernest Williams, Jr. He graduated from Sewanee Military Academy in 1946, received a BA from Vanderbilt University in 1949, and graduated from Vanderbilt School of Law in 1954. He spent two years in the Air Force during the Korean War as an instructor in Atomic, Bacteriological and Chemical defense.

He married Jane Wittichen Williams in 1953 and began his law practice in Memphis, Tennessee at Chandler, Sheperd, Heiskell and Williams, a law firm founded by his father. He became a senior partner in the successor firm Heiskell, Donelson, Bearman, Adams, Williams and Caldwell. The firm is now Baker, Donelson, Bearman and Caldwell. He founded the first Commercial Law Group in the firm and chaired the Interest and Usury Subcommittee of the Commercial Financial Services Committee of the American Bar Association. He was a past president and one of the founders of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers. Mr. Williams was one of the original instructors at the University of Memphis School of Law and taught courses in commercial law.

Mr. Williams was a longtime member of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis, where he was a Sunday School teacher, a member of the Board of Deacons, and the attorney for the church in the process of exercising the right to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church USA. He was the current president of the Chapel Class. Mr. Williams was active in Boy Scouts all of his life and served as a Chickasaw Counsel board member for many years. He was awarded the Silver Beaver, one of Scouting’s highest honors for an adult leader. Many great memories are shared with the Boy Scouts of Troop 276 in Memphis, Tennessee. Mr. Williams was very active in the Mid-South Fair, serving as Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President, Director, member of the Executive Committee, and as Chairman of the Youth Talent Contest for five years. He helped to make arrangement for the winner of the fair to appear on the Ted Mack Youth Talent Contest onCBS. Mr. Williams was the President and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Golightly Foundation, which sought to meet the needs of young people of the Mid-South area for over fifty years with grants and educational loans. He was active in Boys’ Town/Youth Villages, and served on their board of directors. He was also on the Board of Directors of Memphis Habitat for Humanity.

Mr. Williams was a life-long pilot. His love of flying found its greatest expression in gliders. He was a member and past president of the Memphis Soaring Society, the oldest continuously operating soaring club in the United States. He was also an avid racquetball player.

He is survived by his wife and love of 55 years, Jane W. Williams; children Ernie Williams (Colleen), Kay Williams and Tom Williams; and three grandchildren Hunter, Shannon, and Sky.

The family asks that memorials be made in his honor to The Neighborhood School, Memphis Neighborhood Christian Center or Second Presbyterian Church.