James Riley “Red” Williams was born Dec. 12, 1931, in Lane City. “Red” was the ninth of thirteen children. His parents were John Riley Williams (also known as Okra Williams) and Alice Davis Williams.
Red graduated from Leona High School in 1950. Following graduation, he went to work for Dow Chemical in Freeport until he was drafted to serve his country for two years. After completing his two years of service, he went back to Dow Chemical for a short period of time. Red’s love for the country brought him back home to Leon County. He and his dad partnered in hay equipment and became custom hay balers. Red lost his father in August of 1959, but he continued with the hay business until approximately 2002, at which time, his son took over the family business.
In 1959, Red married the love of his life, Ina (Bates) Williams. They had three children, James Riley Williams Jr., Judi Kay Williams and Lori Ann Williams. As soon as the kids were old enough to reach the petal, they were driving the truck while Red put out hay for the cows. By the age of 10 or so, they were on tractors, helping with the family hay business, as was their mother, who worked as hard as most men alongside Red in the hay fields. To this day, many describe Red as the hardest working man they have ever met.
Red loved to coon hunt in his younger days and also had a passion for sports. He enjoyed playing basketball, volleyball and softball. He and his wife played outlaw volleyball well into their thirties. He adored his children and grandchildren like no other and made sure he was a constant presence in their life. Red’s influence and strong work ethic touched many lives. In addition to being a wonderful dad to his children, he was also known as Poppy to his grandchildren and Uncle Boss/Uncle Red to his nieces and nephews.
Red passed away Jan. 13, 2019, in Madisonville. He was preceded in death by both of his parents; a son, David Williams; and eight sisters and three brothers. Surviving family includes his wife, Ina Williams of Normangee; a son, James Riley Williams Jr. (Julie) of Leona; his daughters, Judi Williams Delesandri (David) of Madisonville and Lori Williams O’Neal (Jim) of Normangee; 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren, with one on the way. He is also survived by a sister, Marie Powell of San Antonio, along with a host of nieces and nephews.
Funeral services honoring Red’s life were held Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, at Madisonville Funeral Home in Madisonville. Glenn Connor officiated the service, and interment was in Mt. Tabor Cemetery in northern Madison County.
Arrangements were under the direction of Madisonville Funeral Home in Madisonville. www.madisonvillefuneralhome.com.