August 31, 2016 Edition

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The children of Williams Baptist College founder H.E. Williams, (from left) Steve Williams, Jim Williams and Martha Nicholas, answer questions from Brett Cooper, WBC's vice president for institutional advancement, at the college's 75th Anniversary Convocation Chapel.
TD Photo ~ Gretchen Hunt

Williams family helps celebrate
WBC's 75th anniversary

The children of Dr. H.E. and Beatrice Williams helped celebrate the 75th anniversary of Williams Baptist College on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Martha Nicholas, Jim Williams and Steve Williams shared their memories at the college's opening convocation ceremony.

The three were interviewed onstage, eliciting both tears and laughter as they recalled the early years of the institution, which was founded as Southern Baptist College in 1941.

All three children talked of the years of sacrifice their parents and others poured into the college, as well as more lighthearted moments, such as Steve, the youngest child, getting into trouble when he skipped church to see the Beatles at the Walnut Ridge Airport in 1964.

Martha Nicholas and Jim Williams both live in Little Rock, and Steve Williams lives in Cumming, Georgia.

Martha, who recalled spending 13 years of her childhood on campus and then serving 30 years as an employee of the institution, said those 43 years had a major impact on her life.

"It has impacted my life in more ways than I can recognize," she said. "It is mostly who I am."

Jim shared that the foundation laid by his parents opened doors for not only he and his siblings, but for many students who came through the college.

Steve agreed saying he found direction for his life at Williams (then Southern Baptist).

"I found purpose for my life and that has stayed with me 'til this day," he said.

WBC President Tom Jones recognized former presidents Jack Nicholas and Jerol Swaim, who also attended the ceremony. The convocation was held in WBC's Manley Chapel.

Jones also welcomed new students, along with new faculty and staff, and recognized students who earned honors over the summer months, including the softball team, Phi Beta Lambda and those named as NAIA Scholar Athletes.

Dr. Christopher Thompson played "The Prince of Denmark's March" for the processional, which was led by Dr. Kenneth Gore. Dr. Bob Magee led attendees in the hymn "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." The invocation was led by Jerry Gibbens and the benediction was given by Dr. Harry Black, WBC Class of 1974.

Williams is a liberal arts college in Walnut Ridge. Founded as a junior college, it moved to four-year status in 1984. The name was changed from Southern to Williams Baptist College in 1991.

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