A memory of Don Williams
Many of the Country Music artists that I grew up listening to and even trying to fashion my own voice and style after, have died. Today, September 8, 2017, I found out that Troy Gentry was killed in a helicopter crash and that the Gentle Giant, Don Williams died after a brief illness. My condolences to both families.
Don Williams used to come in to the Catfish House in Clarksville, TN where I worked for a couple of years. I had seen him a few times but never had the opportunity to interact with him. On one occasion, he and his family came in to the restaurant to eat. Mrs. Ellis, who owned and managed the restaurant at the time asked me if I'd like to serve Mr. Williams and his family. I agreed to do so, also agreeing to not make a fuss over them because one of the reasons they liked coming there was they were treated like everyone else.
I have to admit that I was quite nervous but the meal seemed to go quite well and I tried to never let on that I had any idea who he was. After they had eaten Mrs. Ellis informed me that it was Mrs. Williams birthday and she wanted to give her a piece of one of the wonderful pies that were a staple for the restaurant. With the pie in hand, I made my way back to the table leaning between the couple and placing the pie on the table in front of Mrs. Williams. I placed my hand on Don Williams' shoulder and said, "You should sing happy birthday to her." With no hesitation he smiled and said, "Why don't you....I hear you're pretty good."
Speechless, I turned and walked back to the kitchen. I couldn't have sung if I had wanted too. Mrs. Ellis had shared with him my love of music and boy he called me on it!!! I managed to make my way back to the table after a few minutes and Mr. Williams and I spoke for 30 minutes or more about music, the music business, and my plans for college.
I don't remember seeing him again for quite some time. But probably a year later I went into the Dairy Queen in Clarksville and the Williams family was there enjoying some ice cream. When he saw me, he called me by name and asked me how things were going. I was impressed that he remembered me and I don't think I'll ever forget him. Thank you Sir for the music, and mostly thank you for the memory.