Thomas Sylvester Williams was born on June 1, 1946 in Georgetown, South Carolina to Wheeler Bells Williams, Sr. and Blanche Beach Williams. Tom, also known as Vettie or Tommy, passed from his earthly life on Sunday, August 30 after a brief battle with heart issues.
Tom grew up in the historic seaport town of Georgetown, South Carolina which served as the perfect backdrop for a budding outdoorsman. He spent many afternoons and weekends fishing Sampit River, Black River and the Boulevard with his brother Bells Jr. The two were inseparable – seen in kitchens, creeks and streets all over Georgetown. Everybody knew them as Blanche’s boys.
Tom fished, hunted and camped with his family all of his life. He and Jackie fished together often – always competing to see who would catch the first fish or a “double” – two fish on one line. Every break, Tom, Jackie and the girls camped all over South Carolina and North Carolina. Tom was so well known as an outdoorsman that his nephew, Curtis, was surprised to learn only a few years ago that his Uncle Tommy was actually an accountant and not a full time hunter/fisherman. Tom always believed in being prepared and to enjoy life before those moments are gone.
Tom earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio after transferring from Allen University where he and Jacqueline met in the Drama Club and later married in 1968. The couple lived in Detroit for a time before deciding to move back to South Carolina where Tom accepted a position as the first African American executive at Johnsonville Manufacturing. He went on to work for Allen University, Land Resource Commission where he loved to work with South Carolina’s youth to build nature trails and other environmental projects. He later retired from the Department of Social Services where he and his team were responsible for balancing $600 million in federal funding annually.
But back to the hunting and fishing….
Tom loved to hunt deer and quail not only in South Carolina, but also in Costa Rica, was a member of a number of hunting clubs and enjoyed fishing excursions to Alaska where, on his most recent trip, he caught a yellow-eyed Rockfish – only one can be caught for the life of a fishing license.
He was a long-standing member of Frances Burns United Methodist Church where he served on the Usher Board, United Methodist Men and Board of Trustees. If you knew Tom, you liked Tom – and you also knew that he had a generous spirit – often giving fresh caught crappie and venison meat to countless neighbors, family and friends. He most enjoyed giving fresh fish to the widows of FBUMC. He would also host many a fish fry for family cookouts and church events with fresh caught fish. For several months, he prepared meals for the Veteran’s Center every 3rd Thursday of the month.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Wheeler Bells and Blanche Beach Williams, Sr.; his brother and sister-in-law Wheeler Bells Jr and Rachael Williams, their son - his nephew, Wheeler Bells Williams, III, his sister Mercedes Fishburne, brother-in-law Jimmy Montgomery and his niece, Tonya Sheppard.
Precious memories of Tom will be cherished by a loving and devoted wife and life partner of 52 years, Jacqueline Montgomery Williams; two daughters, Leatrice (Michael) Williams Sutton, Worcester, MA and Sabrina L. Jackson, Marietta, GA; grandson, Cyrus Tyrone Jackson II; a beloved aunt, Francis (Eddie) Anderson, Goose Creek, SC; sister-in-law, Gloria M. Jenkins, East Point, GA; nieces, Melissa Williams, Summerville, SC; Te’Shea Winborne, Upper Marlboro, MD; nephews, Curtis Jenkins, Atlanta, GA, Terryll Montgomery, Waldorf, MD, Terrell Holmes, Tampa, FL; nieces, Melonee Montgomery, Lynchburg, VA, Rosalyn Harris, Atlanta, GA, Shana (Donte) Jennings, Lynchburg, VA; nieces, Monica Montgomery, Birmingham, AL, Marchero Montgomery, Montgomery, AL; Kenneth (Syreeta) Wright, Nashville, TN; a host of grand-nieces and grand-nephews, cousins and close friends, Cyrus T Jackson, Sr; special long-time friends, Robert Dawkins, Alex King, Sam Selph, and Tyrone.
In lieu of flowers, please consider Harvest Hope Food Bank. For your convenience the Donations link for Harvest Hope is below.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mr. Thomas "Vettie" Sylvester Williams, please visit our floral store.
Harvest Hope Food Bank (Midlands)
2220 Shop Road, Columbia SC 29201