James A. Williams Sr. bridging generations

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
The children of James A. Williams Sr. at the unveiling of the signs naming the Snake Creek bridge on Fayetteville Highway in memory of their father. From left: Deborah Johnson, Linda Williams, Johnny Williams, Paul Williams, Barbara Johnson, Alfred Williams, Leroy Williams, and R.L. Williams. James A. Williams Jr. was unable to attend and is not pictured.
Tribune photo by Scott Pearson

The bridge over Snake Creek on Fayetteville Highway was officially named in memory of James A. Williams Sr. last Thursday.

Born in 1915 in Belfast, Williams grew up in the family blacksmith shop, a formative experience that manifested as a lifetime interest in invention and mechanical devices.

During his four years service in the Army during World War II, Williams received the Bronze Star for producing tools and machines not otherwise available and was awarded a United States Patent for a grinding machine he designed and built.

After the war, Williams was known for the ornamental ironwork that he built and installed in the city, much of which still exists today.

His plaster work was also well respected and many buildings on the square in Lewisburg are still clad in William’s work.

While the bridge naming is an honor that, in the words of his son Johnny “supplements his legacy,” there are already reminders of Williams all through Lewisburg.

Rhonda Poole profiled Williams in a 1995 article for the Tribune, cataloging many of the buildings he’d worked on or the machines that he had built.

At the end of that piece, after a recounting of accomplishments and successes, Poole asked Williams what made him the proudest.

He answered that it was his nine children, eight of whom were able to attend the ceremony on Thursday.

A bridge over a creek is an excellent monument, but Williams understood that there were better bridges from him to the present than the buildings he worked on or the inventions he created.