Ray Ellis Williams, 86, passed away peacefully in the presence of family. He was strong and lived life on his terms. He was understated and well-liked by those who knew him.
Ray was born to James Ellis Williams and Madella Beatrice Patterson-Williams on April 18, 1937. He graduated from Clinton High School in 1955. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. While at UT, Ray was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Upon his commission to the United States Air Force, attended Flight School and became a C-130 pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with several clusters for his service in Vietnam. His missions brought him to over 100 countries during this time. After his 20-year Air Force career, he returned to school to earn advanced degrees in finance including a Doctorate of Accounting at Memphis State University. He taught accounting at The University of Southern Mississippi for 7 years and at Minnesota State University – Mankato, for 15 years.
One of Ray’s favorite pastimes was reading books about fishing as well as finance-related topics. He also enjoyed outdoor activities with family and friends including hunting, fishing, and trap shooting. He loved to travel. He was always faithful in attendance at his children’s activities and sporting events. He always put his family first and had a strong admiration for his friends.
He is preceded in death by his parents James Williams & Madella Patterson, his grandparents, and most recently, Uncle Hubert Hudson “Pat” Patterson.
Ray is survived by his wife of 44 years, Judy, whom he met in Panama City, FL; his daughter, Rebecca of Mankato, MN; and son James, (Andrea) and grandsons Rocky and Knox of Cloquet, MN; sisters Carolyn Williams Hennis (Tim) of Pine Hurst, NC; Sue Williams Conner of Clinton, TN; and brother, Jack (Jane) Williams, of Clinton, TN; as well as his Aunt Jean Lavone Frederick-Patterson of Spokane, WA. He also leaves numerous nieces, nephews, and many life-long friends.
***Please note: the service for Mr. Williams has been rescheduled due to a winter weather event in the East Tennessee area.***
The Williams Family will receive friends on Monday, January 22, 2023, from 4-6 pm, with the funeral service to follow. Holley Gamble Funeral Home, Clinton, TN
Burial will be at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery, 2200 E. Governor John Sevier Highway, Knoxville, TN 37920, at 10 am on Tuesday, January 23, 2023, beginning promptly at 10 am.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital or another meaningful charitable organization of your choice.
The Staff at Holley Gamble Funeral Home is honored to serve the family and friends of Mr. Ray Williams