Local man has lived storied life

STONINGTON – One could say that Robert “Bob” Williams, who recently turned 89, has lived a successful and fulfilling life. He has been active locally in music – both performing and teaching – well into his 80’s.

Born in Dallas, Texas, on May 15, 1925, Bob was a man of many talents. He would become an inventor, rancher, teacher for the CCC in Texas, and writer, and who had been around the world as radio man for a Merchant Marine ship. His wife Betty Lou was also an accomplished pianist.

Bob was a premature baby and one of the early incubator survivals in Texas. His dad paid for the expensive birth by writing publicity stories for Baylor Hospital. After one that hit the front pages of the area papers, the hospital declared the bill null and void.

Bob’s two siblings, Don and Linda, were born five and 13 years later. Don became a professor and writer, with several fiction, non-fiction and poetry books published, and Linda became a violinist, most recently with the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

Bob attended the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance in 1949. He completed his master’s degree in piano performance at Northwestern University in 1951.

Bob married Lucile “Lukie” Babbitt of Riverside, Ill., on Aug. 13, 1949, in Denver, and the couple moved to Shreveport, La., where Bob taught piano and Lukie taught third-grade. From there they moved to Illinois where the first of their four children, Kathryn (Morski) was born.

After graduating from Northwestern, Bob moved the family west to Santa Ana, Calif., where his parents had settled. His other three children, Martha (Andrew) Nichols of Fort Collins, Colo., Givhan of Seattle, and Kip Travis (Cathy Doyle) of New York, were born. He taught piano there for several studios and was organist for various churches.

The family moved to Fort Collins in 1960 where Bob taught private classes for years and at Colorado State University and played organ for various churches. After the children left home, Bob and Lukie moved to Sweetwater and Bandera, Texas, and eventually to Kerrville.

An avid outdoorsman, Bob has always hiked and climbed. In later years he developed a passion for small wooden boats, which he builds and enjoys.

Lukie had a series of small strokes that resulted in a growing dementia, and Bob cared for her for 15 years before her death at Christian Park Village in 2008. In 2010, after moving back to Kerrville, Bob suffered a small stroke at the home of his daughter Kathryn Morski on Stonington, and has mainly resided with her ever since.

Bob attends First Presbyterian Church in Escanaba and the Bay de Noc Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. He has six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter, Menolly Lucile Kirchenwitz.