Dr. Benjamin Williams, the first African American director of the Evanston Human Relations Commission for the City of Evanston, passed away peacefully on June 30th in Hilton Head Island, S.C. He was 87 years old.
Ben was a long-time educator and historian. Throughout his career, he served as a teacher, principal, administrator, and associate superintendent throughout Illinois (Waukegan, Evanston, Chicago, Oak Park) and in Denver.
His family moved to Evanston in 1968 from Chicago where he served as the Associate Director of the State Human Relations Commission. In Evanston he served as the Executive Director of the Human Relations Commission and Associate Dean and Chairman for National College of Education. Ben was also a District 65 school board member. A prolific writer and speaker, Ben authored a book and several published articles about desegregation strategies and their impact on African American students.
Dr. Williams attended Arkansas Baptist College and served in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army. He was editor of the 101st Airborne Division newspaper and coach of the basketball team. He attended Northwestern University and received his Masters in History and his Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Urban Affairs.
Ben was an extraordinary husband, father, grandfather, and friend. He leaves a legacy of love and a treasure trove of beautiful memories to his wife, Donna E. Williams; his son Bennett and daughters Kitt, Ayanna; as well as four granddaughters, Kennedy, Carson, Kai and Baylee.
We will deeply miss his gentle and kind ways, his radiant smile, and his humor. Benjamin’s inspiring nature, his dedication to service and education positively impacted thousands of lives.
Because he lived, we are forever changed.