‘Bill’ Williams

Mar 1, 2020

‘Bill’ Williams

Retired Post-Intelligencer editor and publisher and longtime community service advocate William Bryant “Bill” Williams Jr., 85, died Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, at American Health Communities (AHC) in Paris, Tennessee.

He battled Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body dementia for three years before suffering a massive stroke Wednesday.

Born Aug. 20, 1934, to W. Bryant and Julia Williams of Paris, he is survived by his wife of 63 years, the former Anne Corbett. The couple married on June 21, 1956, at First Christian Church in Paris.

Other survivors include three daughters: Cindy Barnett of Murray, Julie (Doug) Ray of Gainesville, Florida, and Joan (Skip) Howe of Paris; a son: Michael (Evonne) Williams of Paris; 14 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren and another on the way.

Williams began his newspaper career as a P-I carrier while a student at Atkins-Porter and Grove High Schools.

During his high school years, he worked as a reporter after school on Saturdays and during the summers. After graduating third in his class at Grove High School in 1952, Williams went on to graduate with honors as a journalism and ROTC student at Murray State University.

During his summers, Williams continued to be a P-I reporter. Throughout his college years, Williams was also a member of the college newspaper staff and was named the outstanding journalism student during his senior year.

After graduating from college, he was a reporter for The Memphis Press-Scimitar for a brief period before entering the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant.

He was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, served as a forward observer in an artillery unit and helped work out the logistics of transporting howitzers by helicopter.

He then served seven years in active reserve.


Later, he worked for The Tullahoma (Tennessee) News for three years before he returned to Paris in 1960 as The P-I’s news editor. He spent the next 39 years working his way up to editor, then editor and publisher, finally retiring as publisher in late 1999. However, he continued to write editorials until late 2016.

He became editor and publisher at the retirement of his father, the late Bryant Williams. Bryant in turn had taken over as publisher at the retirement in 1967 of his father, the late W. Percy Williams, who had come from Alabama to purchase The P-I in 1927.

One of the things Bill Williams said he enjoyed about his work was that at the end of each day, he was able to hold a paper in his hands and say, “Here’s what we did today.”

“It’s also a joy to hear from people who used to work here and have gone on to do well in the newspaper business or elsewhere, and hear them speak fondly of their time at The P-I,” Williams said. “You feel like you had a small part to play in making someone’s life a little more complete.”


Williams was very proud of the newspaper, once saying, “I’ve tried to see that it’s been a good citizen of our community.”

He was a good citizen as well, and was an active leader in many clubs and civic organizations in Paris and Henry County.

Williams was one of the nine men active in the annual March of Dimes radio auction who met in 1978 out of concern that so much of the money raised went outside the county.

The group proposed carrying forward with an all-local organization, with the then-temporary name Henry County Helping Hand, that would expand on the March of Dimes auction, but with the stipulation that the funds be used only to benefit local charities and nonprofits.

In 1994, he was part of the group that helped organize a unit of Habitat for Humanity in Paris. By 1996, Henry County’s chapter of Habitat for Humanity was building its first house. He was still climbing on new Habitat house roofs when he was 80.

In 1992, he was awarded a Sequoyah Award from the Tennessee Historical Commission for his many literacy education contributions.


Williams won numerous accolades during his career as a journalist.

In 2013, he became a charter inductee of the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, joining Chris Clark, Anne Holt, Dan Miller, John Seigenthaler and Dean Stone.

He wrote a number of award-winning editorials for The P-I, receiving first-place Tennessee State Press Association awards in the editorials category in 1983 and 1984, and in the Best Single Editorial Category in 1985, 1998, 2002 and 2005.

A 125th anniversary edition of The P-I won first place for Best Promotion of Newspapers in 1992.

Williams served as president of the TPA from 1982-83. He was also a former president of the Tennessee Associated Press Managing Editors and former president of United Press International’s Tennessee Association of Newspapers.

Services have been held.