FAMIOUS WILLIAMS, age 80 of Fort Wayne, Indiana passed away Thursday, October 29, 2020 at Lutheran Hospital. Born the given name of “Famous” on March 23, 1940 in Geiger, AL to George Henry and Lillie Mae (Fowler) Williams, the addition of the “I” was legally added to his forename providing further distinction and distinguishment.
Famious has been a lifelong resident of Fort Wayne, since settling here in 1963. As a youth, he graduated from West End H.S in York, Alabama in 1957, before relocating to Massachusetts where he completed college preparatory work at Dorchester H.S in Dorchester, MA. He served his country for 3 years as a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division of the Armed Forces in the Vietnam War. He graduated from Indiana Institute of Technology in 1971 with a B.S. in Engineering, joining his eldest brother Forrest Williams’ as an alumnus. Post-undergraduate degree, he earned his master’s degree in Psychology in 1973 at Ball State University in Muncie, IN with a Business Minor. He returned to Fort Wayne shortly afterwards working in education administration, guidance and counseling, later becoming the Director of Tutorial Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, IN. As an educator, Famious held mathematic secondary teaching roles in both FWCS and EAC School Districts. Famious was the former Administrator for Starr Commonwealth for Boys, in Albion, MI and worked for the Indiana State Highway Commission and Allen Superior Court system. He held various positions in the financial sector including Small Business Manager at National City and Director of Economic Development.
A prominent black leader and visionary in the community, Famious’ servitude was expansive and broad-sweeping as he genuinely loved his city using his voice to raise issues and foster humanitarianism efforts. Famious was a profound speaker and debater, lending to numerous public engagements, formal events, church affairs and politics. He was an entrepreneur, businessman, economic development activist, and prolific writer who frequently editorialized articles for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, News Sentinel and Frost Illustrated newspapers.
Famious maintained several board memberships including, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Coalition for Effective City Council Government, P.U.S.H Operations, NAACP, the Fort Wayne Urban League and School Boards. He was one of the original founding members of the United Male Chorus and a longstanding member of the Fort Wayne Area Community Band. Famious was a long-standing member of the Turner Chapel A.M.E Church under the tutelage of several pastors. He served as trustee, was on several committees and was a faithful choir member and lead vocalist. Famious’ musical abilities extended far beyond the church as he was a well-known event promoter, Master of Ceremony, and worked with local radio stations and Disc Jockeys. Famious knew and worked with several recording artists both local and mainstream including the Ohio Players and Donna Summer. Famious will always be remembered as the “Man with the Horn”; a name designated by the Fort Wayne News Sentinel, who often photographed him performing around the city. Famious played his saxophone regularly at Alder’s Gate United Methodist Church. He was a self-taught pianist, organist and saxophonist, who accompanied various music groups and taught music lessons at his school of music. Early influences like Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Ray Charles are credited for inspiring his love of music as a well-known crooner himself.
Famious was a staunch civil rights activist and advocate for civil liberties. He attended the historical, March on Washington in 1963 to witness the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and The Million Man March on Washington in 1995. He also attended the historical inauguration of then President Barack Obama on January 2009 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Famious had close ties with prominent national black Mayors and leaders including Maynard Jackson, Andrew Young, Carl Stokes, Richard Hatcher, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson amongst others.
A huge proponent of social injustice and civil rights, Famious was highly active in local politics becoming the first black man to run for Mayor in 1972 and again 3 more attempts against incumbents Win Moses, Ivan Lebamoff and Paul Helmke pushing issues of economic equality, crime reduction and community revitalization. In addition, he also put his name in the hat for State Senate seats.
Famious was known to be quite the romantic as he was constantly giving his wife flowers and engaging her in the two-step as he loved to dance. In his spare time, Famious enjoyed gardening, and going to bible study every week. He was passionate about the Bible; known to have read the entire Old and New Testament several times. He collected memorabilia from all over the world and had an eclectic love for hats. His distinguishing attire – which matched from head to toe – would include shoes, pocket square, handkerchief, matching down to an array of hats like fedora’s, ascots, trilby’s, Pork Pie’s, Boater’s, caps. Famious was also a car enthusiast, known to keep a few Lincolns on hand at any given time.
Famious was preceded in death by his mother and father, George and Lillie Mae Williams, one brother, Charles Williams, his late wife Florene Jackson until widowed in 1991, and a son Keith O’Neil Davis (Maddie Davis), one stepson Larry D. Jackson. Leaving to cherish his memory is his new wife to whom he united in marriage on March 13, 2019 wife Arlene R. Kelly, one daughter, Alicia (the late Roland) Reynolds, and two stepdaughters Kimberly (Stacey) Washington of Oahu, Hawaii and Robin Pilot of Fort Wayne, IN. Four grandchildren, Fred (Deanna) Williams of St. Petersburg, FL, Angelica (Phillip) Cowherd of Fort Wayne, IN, and Rolanda and Autumn Reynolds of Sterling Heights, MI, 6 step grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and 5 step great grandchildren. Also surviving is one brother Forrest (Dorothy) Williams of San Jose, CA, and one sister Georgia Francis (George) Murphy of Riverdale, CA, and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, family and friends.
Funeral services will be held Thursday, November 12, 2020 at the First Assembly Church of God at 1400 W. Washington Center Rd., Fort Wayne, IN 46825. Masks protocol and social distancing will be observed. Funeral services begin at noon with calling two hours prior. Private interment will take place at the National Veterans Cemetery in Marion, Indiana.
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