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KETCHIKAN (KDN) — Llewellyn Morris Williams III, 62, who died Sat., Jan. 4, 2020, believed in God, family and friends, public service and University of Washington Huskies football.
To all of these, he dedicated his life.
Born in Petersburg on Dec. 7, 1957 — when Alaska was still only a territory — Williams was a third generation Alaskan and newspaperman. He co-owned the Ketchikan Daily News with his two sisters for 25 years.
During his life, Williams, or “Doonie,” as he was nicknamed, resided in Petersburg; Ketchikan; Spokane, Washington; Bellingham, Washington; and Arlington, Washington.
In Petersburg, he lived with his parents and sisters in an apartment above the Petersburg Press on Sing Lee Alley, and later on H Street. He attended Petersburg Elementary School and Petersburg’s Presbyterian Church, where he became a fan of its potlucks — and every potluck opportunity since.
In 1966 he moved with his family to Ketchikan and became a second grader at White Cliff Elementary School and a frequent visitor to the bakery in the neighborhood.
When the family moved from the Marine View Apartments to what became the family home on Grant Street, Williams transferred to Main School, which was located at the top of the Edmonds Street stairs.
On the first day of school there, from his new classroom doorway, he looked at all of the strange faces and spotted the smallest kid with the biggest desk. He decided then and there that that kid would be his friend, and the friendship lasted a lifetime.
Williams attended Schoenbar Junior High School, which was what it was called at the time, and graduated in 1976 from Ketchikan High School where he lettered in cross-country.
His love for sports, and particularly the Huskies, couldn’t be overstated. “Go Huskies,” was a refrain he used often.
He also followed the Seattle Mariners as a fan.
While he came to live and breathe sports, he didn’t start out that way. His father, Big Lew, worked to spark the interest in his son. But once the spark ignited, Little Lew excelled with it.
Williams played Ketchikan Little League and Babe Ruth baseball at Norman Walker Field, and proved to be a persistent pitcher and consistent hitter. He always came through in the clutch.
He repeatedly made the leagues’ all-star teams with boys who became lifelong friends. One Little League team on which he played won the Southeast championship in 1970.
Williams worked in the family newspaper business before he entered public school, accompanying his father on advertising sales calls on the Petersburg businesses.
As a youth in Ketchikan, he both sold papers on the downtown streets and delivered a route that ranged from Main to Grant streets. In his teenage years, he learned to operate the press that prints that paper.
He also served as the newspaper’s sports editor in the early 1980s and covered the Ketchikan School Board. Later, he transferred to the advertising department, becoming its manager. In 1995, he became co-owner of Pioneer Printing Co., Inc. and co-publisher of the Ketchikan Daily News. He spearheaded the startup of the Prince of Wales Island Post.
Williams met the love of his life, Vicki Kandt, at the Daily News while home for a break from attending Western Washington University in Bellingham. He had transferred there after two years at Whitworth College in Spokane. At Whitworth, he played baseball. He also achieved an “A” in a logical thinking class, of which he made particular note.
Upon completing high school, Vicki joined Lew in Bellingham for his final year at the university where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. The couple married in 1980. The couple initially lived in Bellingham and then moved to Arlington, where Williams worked as a reporter for the Arlington Times.
The couple also started a family while in Washington, and soon moved back to Ketchikan where Williams rejoined the family business.
The newspaper became his lifetime career, but his passion was public service. He had a servant’s heart.
Williams was elected to the Ketchikan City Council in 1987. Later, he served three three-year terms as the city’s mayor. In all, he committed 32 years as an elected official.
When he was diagnosed with cancer in 2017, he strived hard to complete his final mayoral commitment to the voters. He decided against seeking reelection in 2018.
But when asked to fill a council seat after another council member’s resignation last spring, he was feeling up to it, and, in fact, enthusiastic about doing it. So enthusiastic that he filed for election to the seat later in 2019.
He was elected, but, by December, his health prevented him from attending meetings in council chambers, and, with much regret, he resigned.
For years during his career, Williams checked in with the staff at the Daily News Monday through Friday at 8 o’clock in the morning — or thereabouts — walking through and chatting with all who were present. By about 9 a.m., he was out driving, picking up coffee for the office ladies, making calls on customers (or listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio).
Williams had a gift for conversation. He often chatted up the tourists who walked by the Daily News from the cruise ships docked only two blocks away. He also regularly breakfasted with friends.
His reputation as a friendly and conversational kind of guy led to the newspaper staff in the 1980s printing up a business card identifying him as an “oral communications expert.” It read: Lew Williams III, DL, (Doctor of Lip.) He likely appreciated that card more than any of his diplomas.
Williams and his wife raised three daughters — Kristie, Jodi and Melissa. Fully committed to family life, they encouraged the girls in basketball, ballet and nursing, respectively. He coached basketball and softball teams for many years. The couple attended all of the girls’ school and community activities. They also “parented” numerous friends of their daughters when appropriate to do so.
Williams showed equal commitment to his pride and joy — grandchildren Milan, Newt and Harper.
Williams was preceded in death by his father, Llewellyn M. Williams, Jr., and grandparents, Llewellyn M. Williams Sr., and Winifred Williams, as well as Henry and Christina Baum.
He is survived by his wife, Vicki Williams; mother, Dorothy Williams; daughters, Kristena (Andrew) Berntson, and Jodi and Melissa Williams; sisters, Kathryn and Christena Williams; and grandchildren, Milan Browne, and Newt and Harper Berntson. All live in Ketchikan except for Jodi and Milan of Enumclaw, Washington.
He also is survived by a sister-in-law, Jenelle (Dean) Henrick of Ketchikan; brothers-in-law, Kenneth (Diana) Kandt of Augusta, Georgia, and Keith (Elizabeth) Kandt of Darrington, Washington; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Williams had a whole managerie of pets throughout the years. His particular favorite was a mut of great stature, Duck, who, despite being almost the size of a miniature horse, believed himself a puppy and would sit on Lew’s lap if given the opportunity. Which he was.
Williams, who wore a lapel pin in the shape of a cross on his jacket, was baptized while a member of South Tongass Alliance Church and later became a member of First Baptist Church. He regularly attended church, and read and studied his Bible daily.
One entry in his journal stated: “Love others as yourself. Give to God (tithe), give to others (needy). Christianity focuses on humanity not our self-indulgence.”
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11 at First Baptist Church. A celebration of life reception will follow at 4 p.m. at Ted Ferry Civic Center.
Memorials may be made to First City Council on Cancer or Lew Williams III Baseball Field Memorial Fund at Wells Fargo Bank. The fund has been set up by the family to assist in the reconstruction of Norman Walker fields for Ketchikan youth.