Col. Jimmy Ray Williams left his earthly home to be with his heavenly father on Saturday, September 23rd 2023. His life was a rich and full one of accomplishments and achievements after overcoming difficulties. A man who loved God and Country, he was called to preach at only 15 years of age. He pastored churches in New Mexico, Texas, Idaho, Missouri, Kentucky and Arizona, as well as preached in various other venues. He had a great love for gospel music, singing and promoting this passion with monthly singings at the churches he pastored, special gospel singing events for the public as well as radio and TV broadcasts. He himself sang, recording an album of gospel music as a soloist and participated in many gospel groups, including singing with his wife and two youngest children for a few years.
He also followed Christ’s example of caring for the down-trodden both privately and professionally. He was employed several years with the state of Texas as a social worker, primarily in the care of the aged, disabled and blind, taking a personal interest in seeing that his clients were well cared for, protected and respected. Personally, he was willing to give his last dollar to someone more needy despite being strapped financially himself with a family to feed, yet God always provided.
Despite never graduating from high school, he went on to attend college, earning a Bachelor’s degree, and finally a Master’s in theology from Midwestern Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
When Jimmy was 13, he gave a false age to join the local National Guard unit. Two years later, the unit was activated to engage in the Korean War. Jimmy also deployed and rode the train with his unit only to be discharged after his father contacted Sen. Kefauver. At age 17 he legally rejoined the US Army although by then the conflict was over. Before being stationed in Germany he met and married Billie Sue Price of Reliance, Tennessee. Although the marriage was short-lived, they were blessed with a daughter, Janet, whom Jimmy was always proud of. Later, when stationed at White Sands Missile Base New Mexico, he met Lois Boyd at church services in El Paso Texas whom he married In 1960.
He left the military at this time to begin his education, first at Wayland Baptist College in Plainview Texas where his daughter Rebekah was born, then at Nazarene College in Nampa Idaho where his son Travis Ray was born. After completing his education, he rejoined the military and earned his commission as a chaplain. He continued with Pastoral education and training courses until he earned rank of Col. At that time, he was activated for the Desert Storm conflict as a chaplain at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio Texas.
He retired from the state of Texas and moved to Monroe Louisiana where he further promoted gospel music through other media.
After many years living away from the place of his birth, he returned to Etowah, Tennessee to care for his elderly father. In Etowah he was very active in the community. He served as state chaplain for AMVETS and remained very active with post 100 until his death. He also supported the ministry program of Miracle Lake, with a member of the Elks Club, a member of the Hiawassee chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and a long-time brother of the Masonic Lodge in Etowah, 32 degrees of Scottish Rite. He attended Piney Grove Baptist Church in Etowah. He was active in local events honoring veterans, gave speeches on patriotism and continued singing gospel music.
He was the patriarch of a growing family of descendants, a generous and supportive father figure to them all. He loved his children deeply and would always have their backs when needed. He was devoted to their happiness, the personification of parental love.
Col. Williams was born in Etowah to his parents Ray and Grace (Burns) Williams. His grandparents were Charlie Taylor and Lillie (Harris) Burns, and C.H. and Mary Etta (Dolan) Williams. He grew up in Good Springs area and gave his heart to Jesus as a child at the Good Springs Baptist Church. He was the eldest of five brothers.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his wife of 40 years, his brothers, Terry and Ronnie Williams and an infant daughter.
He is survived by his 3 children, Janet (Teddy) Corn of Etowah, Rebekah (Williams) Cessna of Reliance, and Travis Ray Williams of San Antonio, Texas; his grandchildren, Andrea Little of Reliance, Jada Stewart of Etowah. who willingly gave up her time and activities to live and care for her grandfather, Mikey Stewart of Vonore, Brendan Stewart of Etowah, Nerissa Jones of Lorain, Ohio, Shamra Williams-Hussein, Carson Ray Cessna and Skyla Cessna, all of Chattanooga, 13 great grandchildren and 4 great-great grandchildren; brothers, Jerry Williams of Etowah, and Rex Williams of Corbin, KY; nieces, nephews and cousins.
He passed away in his home in the company of his daughter Rebekah, and his days were full of the family and friends who came by frequently, to help him out and pay their respects to THE COLONEL.
Funeral Service will be held at 7:00 p.m., Monday, October 2, 2023, in the chapel of Bordwine Funeral Home.
The family will receive friends from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday prior to the service.
Family and friends will assemble at 12:30 p.m., Tuesday, October 3rd at East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery, located at 2200 E Governor John Sevier Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37920, for the committal service.