Obituary: Clement Webb Williams
Clement Webb Williams, devoted husband of Sallie Walter Williams (d. 2011) and beloved father of Clement and J. Walter Williams and Elizabeth Williams Nixon, died peacefully the morning of November 7, 2018 after a brief illness.
Not many have deeper integrity or more inner strength than Webb did. Nor do many have his famously bushy eyebrows that he would raise so judiciously. A true anchor to his family and friends, he inspired calm and the confidence of all those around him. Quick to help whenever he saw it needed, he refrained from judging, instead he encouraged and lived to highest standard of decency, kindness, modesty, acceptance and generosity.
Webb’s childhood was spent on university campuses. He was born in Iowa City, IA to Clement Clarence Williams, the Dean of the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering, and Ora Webb Williams, a university professor turned homemaker and mother to Louise, Ellen and Webb.
From Iowa they moved to Bethlehem, PA where his father served as President of Lehigh University (1935-44). It was there that Webb met his wife, Sallie, a lively girl with long brown braids, when they were first graders at the Moravian Preparatory School.
In 1944, the family moved to Madison, WI. Webb took on the mantle of family patriarch at barely 17 when his father died suddenly. He stayed in Madison and attended the University of Wisconsin, where he studied Economics, played baseball, was in the ROTC and enjoyed the brotherhood of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. We suspect he owed his lifelong appreciation to vodka to the Theta Delts’ practice of chilling their drinks with icicles pulled from the frat house roof.
Webb and Sallie had stayed in touch over the years. During a summer and after graduating, Webb served active army duty in Ft Monmouth, NJ fortuitously close to Bethlehem where Sallie was after graduating from Wellesley College. Friendship became romance and Webb and Sallie were married at the Lehigh Chapel April 26, 1952.
After completing active duty and a graduate degree in Economics and Finance back in Madison, Webb began his career with Standard Oil (now Exxon Mobil) in NY and they settled in Old Greenwich, CT and began raising their three young children. Webb had always wanted an overseas assignment and 1963, he accepted a new role as Deputy European Financial Representative based in London. This led to a fulfilling career adventure managing some very interesting projects across Europe and to a very special personal experience of living in what was then a small, English village in the mid 1960s.
The family returned to Riverside, CT in 1966 when Webb became Treasurer of Esso (Exxon) Chemical. With worldwide responsibilities, he continued to enjoy cross cultural projects, colleagues and travel. In 1977 he took over responsibility for Benefit Finance in the Exxon Treasurer’s department and later became Assistant Treasurer with responsibility of investing employee benefit and other non-corporate funds in excess of $5 billion. He retired in 1986 after 32 years with Exxon.
In retirement, Webb devoted his considerable talents as Director and Treasurer of the Greenwich United Way and long-term Director and Treasurer of Hill House, a congregate home for well-elderly in Riverside, CT.
Webb cherished long-term friendships. He and Sallie attended his 40th, 50th, 60th and 65th Madison West High School reunions. They loved summer reunions with his retired fraternity brothers and their wives, canoeing and catching up over chilled martinis in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. He stayed very close to his Exxon friends, serving as President of the Exxon Annuitants Club of New York for 10 years and leading the Exxon Treasurer’s Alumni Group for many years. He organized annual Christmas lunches and as recently as late September attended an annual Exxon Treasury alumni event in New York. He mostly cherished, but not always, his long-term relationship with the NY Giants, being a season ticket holder from 1958-2009.
Likely the most enjoyable part of retirement was the time he had with Sallie pursuing and supporting their shared interests in the arts and travelling. Many of their trips were taken with their dear friends, Bill and Karen Watt, who credit Webb for being the initiator of these “Cultural Opportunities” which took them to Budapest, Beijing, Bordeaux, Berlin and many, many places in between. Webb immersed himself in planning these trips to ensure the most interesting accommodations, meals, sites and experiences.
Webb spent the last seven years at Meadow Ridge, in Redding, CT. Sallie passed away soon after they moved in in 2011. They had enjoyed almost 60 years of a truly loving marriage and 75 years of friendship going back to meeting in first grade.
His children are very proud that Webb put his best foot forward and developed new friendships at Meadow Ridge including a friendship with fellow resident, Enid Busch, with whom he enjoyed many cultural outings and companionship. He organized pre-dinner drinks in his apartment for his close group, “The Usual Suspects,” continued to travel and to pursue his interest in the arts and the business world. He contributed much to the Meadow Ridge community as a member of the Finance, Marketing, Opera and Ballet, Building and Emergency Preparedness Committees. He was on his second three-year term as a member of the Residents’ Board when he died.
And of course, he doted on his children and grandchildren in Evergreen, CO, Toronto and Ridgefield, CT in the most loving way possible — by his example of quiet goodness, generosity and determination. He was faithful to Clem, Libby and Walt through their adventures and occasional misadventures and was very proud of them. He listened intently about his grandchildren’s school projects, summer camps, sports matches and jobs. But they always knew when he was ready to switch topics!
He was a grand man and had a grand life. His family is filled with gratitude for his kindness and wisdom and inspired by his example as a human being.
There will be a celebration of life Saturday, November 24 at 11:00 at the First Church of Christ, 25 Cross Highway, Redding, CT 06896. For those who wish to make a donation in Webb’s memory, please give to the Colorado Special Olympics, the Greenwich Choral Society or to the charity of your choice. The family is very grateful for the devoted care by the staff at the Danbury Hospital ICU. Condolences for the family can be left at www.jowdykanefuneralhome.com.