Stanley “Stan” Neil Williams, 85, passed peacefully at home Sept. 13 surrounded by his loving family. Funeral services will be held 10:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, at the Williams’ longtime church, Austin Avenue United Methodist Church.
Stanley was an optimistic man. A leader by example, he always looked for the good in people and inspired others to do and be their best. “Do what’s right with all your might,” he often told his own four children and four grandchildren. Honest, humble, loyal and generous-hearted, Stanley was loved by many – and for many reasons.
He was born in Putnam, Texas, as the youngest son to Vivian I. and Roy Lee Williams, a WW I veteran and farmer. During his youth, Stanley worked in the fields with his dad and was tailback for the undefeated Putnam Panthers. At a Putnam sports banquet, one of Stanley’s coaches prophetically declared the then 12-year-old athlete a future All-American.
When his family moved to Cisco, Stanley played five seasons for the high school’s Lobos football team and earned several All-State mentions. Also while in Cisco, Stanley met Barbara Nell Grist, who became his devoted wife of 67 years.
Though actively recruited by Southern Methodist, Rice and Texas Christian universities, Stanley chose Baylor because of its Christian foundation. During his four years (1948 -1951) as end for the Bears, Stanley tallied 65 catches for 1, 029 yards and 11 touchdowns. His senior year, he was named first-team offensive end to the All-American football team selected by Grantland Rice and the Football Writers Association of America, as well as first team All-Southwest Conference.
Stanley’s talents and sincere enthusiasm for the game later brought even more recognition in the Texas football arena, including Baylor Hall of Fame inductee, Baylor Legend, Texas Sports Hall of Fame member and Floyd Casey Stadium All-Time Team nominee.
After college, Stanley played one season as end and defensive back for the original 1952 Dallas Texans, that city’s first professional football team, and then five seasons for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. During his career there, Stanley made the All-Star squad two years – one year as a defensive player and one year as an offensive player. He also was named All-Canadian twice and played in the Canadian Football League’s first All-Star game. In 1996, he was elected to the Saskatchewan Roughriders Plaza of Honor.
In 1957, Stanley retired from professional football to return to his job at Kendrick Tire and Auto Center. Hired by the late owner Raymond “Cowboy” Kendrick, Stanley met, greeted and assisted customers for 52 years at the downtown Waco business. He even gladly took work-related phone calls during Sunday lunches at home after church from his faithful customers.
Stanley also returned to his Waco church, Austin Avenue United Methodist, which he and Barbara joined while freshmen at Baylor. He served the church in numerous capacities, including as a member of the official board and as a Sunday school teacher. Stanley and Barbara last taught first- and second-graders at Austin Avenue UMC. Together, they maintained regular seats at the back of the sanctuary for services.
Stanley is remembered as a popular and fun chaperone on Austin Avenue UMC youth trips to Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. All recall how he rode every ride with the young people – and how he loved every minute of it.
Stanley’s many civic and charitable endeavors include serving as a member of the Army National Guard and Baylor University Lettermen’s Association and on the board of The Boys Club. He was an active supporter of the Methodist Children’s Home and Meals on Wheels. Stanley also spent countless hours on the development of the Malcolm Louden Fields at the Lake Air Little League Baseball Center.
And for some five decades, often with his dear friends the late Richard T. Pierce and the late Judge Bill Logue, Stanley could be seen at Baylor football games cheering on his favorite team.
Stanley is preceded in death by his brothers, Roy Lee Williams Jr., Bennie Burns Williams and J. Nelson Williams.
Stanley is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Waco; daughters, Barbara “Barbie” Williams Ryan Kuntz and husband, Hal, of Houston, and Sally Williams Morris and husband, James, of San Antonio; son, Danny Charles Williams and son, Michael Neil Williams and wife, Marliss Ann Williams, of Valley Mills; and grandchildren, Joseph Pierce Williams, Carson Michael Williams, Cameron Blair Ryan and Lillian Kathryn Morris.
In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to Austin Avenue United Methodist Church.
The family also invites you to leave a message or memory in the “Memorial Guestbook” at www.WHBfamily.com.