Former councilman Williams remembered as public servant and ‘straight-talker’

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For nearly 12 years, Charles “Jerry” Williams served the residents of Wilson’s District 3 as a councilman and in the wake of his Monday death, his colleagues remembered him fondly.

“Jerry was a very good council member,” said Mayor Bruce Rose. “He was very knowledgeable about situations going on and always voted for what he thought was best for the city of Wilson.”

Williams, 82, started his tenure on Dec. 7, 1989 and served until opting not to seek a sixth term in 2002. When Williams first became a councilman, Rose was the city fire chief, but when Rose became mayor, the two worked side by side as elected officials. When Williams wasn’t attending council meetings, he owned Robert Williams Construction Co, which he purchased from his father in the late ‘70s and he brought his expertise as a contractor to his public service.

“When we had to review plans, he knew exactly what to look for,” Rose recalled. “To be honest, he often helped me and others with the plans.”

Councilman James Johnson recalled joining the council in 1992 and both he and Williams were outspoken about their views. The duo sometimes disagreed, but Johnson said politics didn’t come between them.

“When I was having a son, I called him about doing some work on our windows. When he finished, he said, ‘This is what I would have charged you, but I won’t. I want you to put that money into your son’s education fund,” Johnson recalled. “I asked if he was sure and he said, ‘Yep, I’m doing this for your son.’”

Johnson said Williams was always “a straight-talker who didn’t mince his words.”

“He was a good guy and a good man for the community,” Johnson said.

Williams worked until retiring from his company in 2007, but he continued to stay active at the church his family helped found, Farmington Heights Church of God, and other organizations. Before falling ill, Williams and his wife Felicia also could be seen on most mornings at the Bojangles’ restaurant near the mall.

“Jerry was very serious about being a council member and he was the same in his own business,” Rose recalled. “He was a serious-minded person who did a great job for the city and I enjoyed serving with him.”

When Williams announced his decision not to seek a sixth term, he provided a prepared statement to The Wilson Times that summed up his experience as a public servant.

“Thanks again for the memories, for a boy with humble beginnings to have the opportunity to serve on city council and to have met some people that I would have not met otherwise,” he said in 2002. “For this, I am thankful to God.”