Robert “Bob” Williams, 78, died June 24, 2013, at the IU Health Hospice House in Bloomington. He was born in Warsaw July 17, 1934. Bob was the only child of Homer V. and Helen (Can) Williams. He was preceded in death by his parents.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Patricia L. “Pat” Williams; son, Braddon S. Williams, Kokomo; daughter, Courtnay (Joseph) Fuller, Manassas, Va.; and grandchildren, Andrew Fuller and Emma Fuller.
Bob graduated from Warsaw High School, Warsaw, and from Indiana University, where he obtained a B.S. in piano from the Jacobs School of Music, and a M.A. from Arts and Sciences.
One of his fondest memories was being the accompanist for the Singing Hoosiers under the direction of founder George Krueger. That close teaching relationship remained with him all his life and was instrumental in how he interpreted music. He served as the president of the IU Singing Hoosiers Alumni Council and was awarded the Singing Hoosiers Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1987.
Bob and Pat met at IU, at an exchange dinner between Beta Theta Pi and Alpha Omicron Pi. Following their marriage in 1956, Bob was drafted by the U.S. Army and served with the Infantry Division in Germany. While there, he wrote the music for an original work called, “Always Fair Weather.”
His teaching career began in Howard County, where he taught at Northwestern High School, where he wrote nine original musical productions for his students. He moved to Haworth High School and Kokomo High School systems, where he taught English, literature, and drama, while continuing to direct plays at both high schools.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s Bob was under contract as an actor with Act One and Helen Wells Agencies in Indianapolis, where he did work in both TV and print commercials.
Kokomo Civic Theatre was a favorite pastime, working with many close friends and sharing his love of music and theater. He was awarded the Kokomo Civic Theatre Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. He formed a group, “Bob Williams and Friends,” who performed in northern Indiana the works of Bob’s favorite composers. IU Kokomo was the recipient of their generosity as the IUK Library was being built. Bob was awarded the IUK Distinguished Service Award in 2008.
Retirement to Bloomington gave Bob continued opportunities to perform thanks to the IU Alumni Association. Pat’s need for a program led to Bob developing their “Hoagy Carmichael” gig, which they enjoyed performing in many different states for the IUAA. In 2010, the IUAA awarded Bob the Presidents Award, which was a proud moment for this life member of the IUAA. His early association with Straight No Chaser led him toward four recordings, so his music will continue.
Friends in central Indiana enjoyed his yearly appearances at the Artsgarden in Indianapolis. And friends in the Washington, D.C., area appreciated his yearly turns at the piano of the Army-Navy Country Club on New Year’s Eve.
Even as his health faltered in 2013, he continued to share his gift of music with the patients and families of the IU Health Hospital Oncology unit on 4East, where he was known as “The Piano Man.”
A memorial service will be at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church with visitation one hour prior to the service at 3 p.m. Monday. A Kokomo “Remembering Bob” gathering will take place at 7 p.m. July 17 at IUK Havens Auditorium.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the IU Foundation for the Robert E. Williams Singing Hoosiers Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 500, Bloomington, IN 47402 or the IU Health Hospital Foundation, P.O. Box 1149, Bloomington, IN 47402 to benefit either the neurological unit or Hospice House. Allen Funeral Home, Bloomington, is handling the arrangements and online condolences may be sent to the family at www.allenfuneralhome.org.