People just naturally gravitated to Ronald L. “Bud” Williams.
Chris Greene often found himself sitting next to Williams at Rotary Club of Twin Falls meetings. He liked Williams’ thoughtful and caring nature.
“Bud was one of the good guys,” Greene said.
Williams, 87, died of acute myeloid leukemia Jan. 3 at his home with family.
When volunteers were needed for recent Christmas events, Williams — a Rotary member for the past 40 years — didn’t hesitate to sign up when others declined. And at Wednesday’s Rotary meeting there will be an empty spot where Williams would have sat, and one less person willing to step up and help out.
His passing was a shock to family and friends because, many said, he was in good health up until about a week ago. He had flu-like symptoms and pneumonia, but further tests diagnosed him with acute myeloid leukemia.
The family is also mourning the death of Williams’ son Tom, who died Dec. 18.
Chris Williams, who lives in Hailey, visited his father in October and said he was his usual energetic self.
“We played golf at Blue Lakes Country Club, had dinner and watched a CSI basketball game,” Chris said. “He got admitted to the hospital on Thursday and I came down Friday, and he died Sunday evening. He was 87, and we all have it in perspective that when you are an 87-year-old human being you could go at any time, but we were all caught off guard with this.”
Williams co-founded today’s WinCo Foods — originally Waremart — and owned and operated Williams Market grocery stores in Twin Falls, Filer and Ketchum. He grew up on a family farm outside of Idaho Falls and began work at the age of 12 in a grocery store.
His wife, Maureen, said many of her husband’s former employees have called her to offer their condolences.
The couple would have been married 52 years in June. They met through a friend when Williams was manager of a Safeway store in Caldwell. He was a widower with two little boys and she was recently divorced with her own two children. Williams moved to Caldwell after the death of his first wife, Charlotte, from lupus.
“It was a girlfriend that got us together. Neither one of us was looking to be set up,” Maureen said. “He was in pain still and I was young divorcee with two kids, but I just recognized him as such a good man. He loved his children. His children were extremely important to him.”
Williams’ son Chris remembered his father having a no-nonsense personality, which softened after retirement.
“He and I had these conversations and he’d say, ‘Retirement has been really good to me.’ Really, in some way, he was enjoying his life. He had been working since he was 12 years. He was a little calmer and patient in retirement.”
“I find guys that are self-made interesting and that was one of the things that drew me to him,” Rotary member Greene said. “Bud seemed to be naturally one of those guys everybody liked him. I never heard him say a cross thing about anyone. I never heard him gossip about anybody, something that most of us are guilty of.”
Williams served on the Magic Valley Regional Medical Center Foundation board and was president in 2002. Williams was a longtime member of the American Legion and earned the Rotary Foundation’s Paul Harris Fellow award for his significant efforts.