In Memory of WWII Memorial Ambassador Haydn Williams
(August 21, 1919 - March XX, 2016)
A WWII Veteran, Ambassador Williams served as chairman of the American Battle Monuments Commission’s WWII Memorial Committee responsible for the WWII Memorial’s site and design.
It is with great sadness that the Friends of the National World War II Memorial (Friends) announces today that its founder and chairman emeritus, F. Haydn Williams, has died at the age of XX in San Francisco, California.
“Ambassador Williams’ lasting contributions to this country – and to our World War II generation – over nearly 75 years cannot be overstated,” said Friends chairman Josiah Bunting II. “His work will live on in the magnificent World War II Memorial and through the ongoing efforts of Friends.”
In 1994, President Bill Clinton appointed Ambassador Williams to serve on the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). He was subsequently named chairman of the ABMC’s National WWII Memorial Committee with the primary responsibility for the site and the design of the National WWII Memorial. During the complicated approval process established by law, Ambassador Williams presented and defended ABMC’s recommendations in 22 public hearings over a period of five years.
As a major private donor to the Memorial’s capital campaign, Ambassador Williams was also successful in helping raise significant other contributions from corporations, foundations, and personal friends. For his service, Ambassador Williams was awarded the ABMC’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2001. The WWII Memorial was formally dedicated in 2004.
“Without the leadership of Haydn Williams, the WWII Memorial would not be located where it is nor would it have become the iconic centerpiece on the National Mall that it is today,” said Friends board members and former ABMC WWII Memorial Site and Design Committee members Brigadier General Pat Foote, USA (Ret.) and Rolland Kidder. “Despite continual opposition, he shepherded the Memorial’s approval through many contentious hearings. From a site and design aspect, he became the ‘Father’ of the WWII Memorial.”
In 2007, Ambassador Williams led the effort to establish the Friends of the National WWII Memorial and became its first chairman. Following his 2009 retirement, he was elected chairman emeritus and remained actively engaged in the organization and its ongoing mission to honor and preserve the national memory of WWII until his death.
From 1941-42, Ambassador Williams served on Midway Island with Pacific Naval Air Base Contractors building runways, seaplane, and a submarine base. On December 7, 1941, he was engaged in a touch football game with friends when the First Bombardment of Midway occurred, shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Soon after the bombing, Ambassador Williams was commissioned U.S. Naval Reserve and served on staff of Commander Naval Air Transport Pacific and as an air operations officer in the Central Pacific, the Marianas, and the Occupation of Japan, with the primary mission of air evacuating our prisoners of war. He was discharged from active duty in 1946 as a Lieutenant j.g.
Following the war, he worked as a young assistant professor at the University of Washington followed by six years at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy as an Associate Dean and Associate Professor. While at Fletcher, Ambassador Williams was an advisor to the U.S. Navy and to Naval officers sent to Fletcher for advanced study and degrees. He also participated, as an associate, in Harvard’s Defense Studies Program.
During the Eisenhower Administration, he was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and was invited by the Kennedy Administration to continue to serve as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. He also was a lecturer at the Naval War College Newport and at the National War College Ft. McNair.
From 1971-1976, he served as the President’s Personal Representative for the Micronesia and Mariana Future Political Status Negotiations with the rank of Ambassador. These Negotiations ended the US Strategic Trusteeship over the islands taken from Japan during WWII.
Ambassador Williams also served 25 years as the President of The Asia Foundation, the longest tenure of any Foundation President.
After retiring from The Asia Foundation, Ambassador Williams spent the next few years promoting the development of the American Memorial Park Saipan, the scene of ferocious combat in 1944 as American ground and naval forces broke through Imperial Japan’s inner defense rim. Ambassador Williams has been called the father of both the Memorial Park and the American Memorial on Saipan, America’s most western tribute to our war dead in the far Pacific.
Born in Spokane Washington on August 21, 1919, Ambassador Williams earned an A.B. from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is pre-deceased by his beloved wife Margaret.
[Excerpted and modified from dignitymemorial.com]
Messages from the Friends of the National World War II Memorial Board of Directors:
"In my days with ABMC, Jess’s wise counsel and support for me was of critical importance. He was the first member of the White House WWII Memorial Advisory Board to back me fully on the need to raise sum of at least $100 Million for the construction of the Memorial on its place on the Mall where we wanted it, costing four times what the White House Advisory Board and ABMC staff had in mind. A word from Jess to President Clinton opened the doors for my important meetings with Mack McLarty on the WWII Memorial, the president’s Chief of Staff. Later I asked Jess to be an honorary member of my Site and Design Committee. His quiet measured counsel and encouragement to the Committee (Pat Foote, Rolly Kidder, Frank Moore, and Helen Fagin) were of great importance and especially comforting to me personally. When it came time for fundraising Jess was a true rainmaker for the Memorial’s Capital Campaign, raising many, many millions of dollars from his wide circle of friends and admirers in the corporate world, especially from firms which are now AT&T. He and I both struck out in a final joint effort to get a continuing annual appropriation for ABMC from the Congress for the perpetual care and maintenance of the WWII Memorial. A few years later, I turned to Jess for help in founding The Friends of the National WWII Memorial. He has served on the Board as a revered senior member and as Chairman of its Governance Committee throughout its history. Today I had a call from Ramona, his life long secretary asking me on behalf of Jess’s family, if I would serve as an honorary Pall Bearer at Jess’s Memorial Service in Dallas next Tuesday, that this was Jess’s wish. Moved beyond words I close quoting Friends board member Bob Bohannon, who was like a devoted younger brother to Jess, saying 'I have believed for a very long time, that if God has made a better person than Jess Hay, I haven't met him or her and I don't think that I ever will. And, for those that knew him, most, if not all, would agree with me.' Amen, Amen." ~ Ambassador F. Haydn Williams, chairman emeritus"Jess was a wonderful advisor to me during the early days of Friends, a source of organizational and fundraising expertise, and always a gentleman. He will be missed by many." ~ Ruth Rodgers, secretary