Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Harry Kenneth Williams, 88

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Harry Kenneth Williams, age 88, of New Hanover County, NC passed away October 3, 2022 peacefully in the comfort of his home.  He now joins the love of his life, Joy Williams, along with the Lord our Savior.

Harry was born February 15, 1934 in Radford, VA the son of Nellie and Daniel Williams.  One of eight loving brothers and sisters, he worked at his parents grocery store and barber shop, excelled at school and sports and graduated from Radford High School to attend Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  It was shortly thereafter his education was interrupted by service in the US Marine Corps.  It was during these years Harry married his high school sweetheart and true love, Joy. Courtesy of the Marines he and Joy enjoyed desert life in Twentynine Palms, CA before returning to Blacksburg, VA to resume his education after completion of his military service.  After graduation from Virginia Tech he then attended UNC Chapel Hill where he obtained his MBA. 

He and Joy then moved to Covington, VA where Harry worked for West Virginia Pulp and Paper, later known as Westvaco.  He and Joy had 3 sons and Harry was active in community and civic organizations including the Lions Club and The Boys Home of Virginia.  He was an active member of Covington Baptist Church, serving as a deacon, a member of the choir and taught Sunday school letting his faith be a guiding principle.  He enjoyed professional success through hard work but more importantly he and Joy laid the foundation for a family that would remain close and caring for the years to come.  His example was shared with others through many close friends, extended family and his many community outreach activities.  He taught his sons the value of hard work, sacrifice, honesty and integrity.  Joy was his ever-present support and partner in these endeavors.

The Williams family moved in 1977 when Harry was named Assistant General Manager of Westvaco’s Folding Carton Division in Newark, DE.  He was promoted to General Manager just 2 years later. His boys finished high school there while Joy taught business classes at Delaware Technical Institute.  Family and faith remained his focus and he continued his ascent at Westvaco Corporation moving to Richmond, VA in 1985 to be Assistant General Manager of the Virginia Folding Box Division headquarters.  He was named General Manager months later.  In 1988 he was promoted to General Manager, Converting and Bleached Board Division and in 1990 was elected a Vice President of the company.  His instrumental role in Westvaco’s expansion into Czechoslovakia was something he was particularly proud of.

Harry and Joy enjoyed the return to their home state and were able to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. The boys were no longer under roof, and they enjoyed opportunities to travel and see a bit of the world. After an accomplished career and negotiating the college/grad school tuition mine field Harry retired and a more southern latitude called.  He moved to Wilmington, NC where they enjoyed the coastal weather and outdoor activities while developing a close friend group in the community of Landfall.  Harry was an active member of a local business group, the First Baptist Church of Wilmington where he sang in the choir and served on multiple committees and was an integral member of the Landfall Foundation and its charitable outreach.  After Joys’ untimely passing from her battle with lupus in 2004, he remained active in his church and community.  Family was a priority and visits from his sons and 7 grandchildren were always a highlight. He kept his golf and tennis strokes fluid and enjoyed golf trips with his sons to Scotland and Ireland to cement everlasting memories.

Harry spent the last 12 1/2 years married to Barbara who proved to be a wonderful wife, companion, and ultimately caretaker during Harry’s battle with metastatic prostate cancer.  They traveled, had an active social life, and were both devoted to their church and many charitable activities.  Helping those less fortunate was often a focus of his generosity.  Harry continued to enjoy time with friends and family and cherished watching his grandchildren become fine young adults.  His final days were brightened by visits from family and the ever-present love of his wife Barbara.  He felt blessed and comforted by her presence especially in those times of need.  Something we can all be grateful for no doubt.

In addition, we are eternally thankful for the compassionate and attentive care provided by the caretakers from Always Good Company who allowed Harry to spend these past weeks where he wanted to be, his home.

Harry is survived by his wife Barbara, his three sons Ken (Sheri Mancini), Chris (Claire), and Scott (Cathy).  He was loved by 7 grandchildren, Tanner, Terrell, Emma, Carter, Grace, Hannah and Lauren and blessed just in August with his great granddaughter Emerson.  In addition he is survived by stepsons Wes (Carla), Woody (Tammie), and William (Rebecca) as well as step grandchildren Summer, Katie, Hayden, Haley Catherine, Taylor, Isaac, and Payton.

Harry was preceded in death by his first wife Joy, sisters Francis, Elizabeth, Anne, Nancy, Peggy, and brother Fred.

A service to celebrate Harry’s life will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, October 8, 2022 at the First Baptist Church of Wilmington at 411 Market St. Wilmington, NC.  There will be a reception to follow at the church.  In lieu of flowers Harry and Barbara request a donation be made to Lower Cape Fear LifeCare at lifecare.org or the First Baptist Church of Wilmington fund for the Homeless at www.fbcwilmington.org.

Shared memories and condolences may be sent to the family via the Tribute Wall.

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