The Pepperdine community was saddened to learn that Don Williams, long time director of “Thanksgiving Youthfest” and former associate director of church services at Pepperdine, passed away early today in Chickasha, Oklahoma. He was 75.
Don was a special counselor and associate director in Church Services from 1971-1992. He was an adjunct faculty member in the Religion Division from 1989-1992.
“Big Don” as he was affectionately known, traveled over 100,000 miles a year, for several years, speaking at youth rallies, in seminars, and at youth camps, bringing thousands of teens to Christ. His many years of distinguished service to the Churches of Christ was marked by unbridled enthusiasm, boundless energy, and a contagious spirit of love for Pepperdine and the Churches of Christ.
“Big Don was a big man with a big heart. His role in the development of strong relations between Pepperdine and the Churches of Christ was of vital importance in our history,” noted Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton.
Jerry Rushford, former Director of Church Relations at Pepperdine added this reflection on his long-time friend and colleague: “As long as I live, I will treasure the years I worked with ‘Big Don’ in Church Relations. He had a profound love for Christ and the Church and it spilled over into every area of his life. He was loved and admired by young and old alike. He loved his students, and his students adored him and camped out around his office in Thornton. His door was always open, and he was kindness personified. Don was by nature the great encourager, and he saw the best in everyone he met. I can still hear his contagious laughter echoing down the halls of Thornton’s third floor. He was truly one of the most beloved human beings I have ever known.”
Bill Henegar also worked with Williams over an extensive period of time and added this note: “Don was a pioneer in the early days of the Malibu campus, recruiting students for Seaver College and playing the role of mentor, friend and counselor. His office on the third floor of TAC was stuffed with floor-to-ceiling books, and was filled with soft drinks and candy to lure faculty, staff and students into his web of concern and love. Tears were wiped away and problems were lifted to God. Everyone was safe in Don’s care. It’s difficult to estimate the great good he was able to do in his tenure at Pepperdine. His love and his laughter will be missed.”
UPDATE: The memorial service is scheduled for Monday, November 19 at 10:30 a.m. at the Cyril High School Auditorium in Cyril, OK. Tim Lewis and Joe Barnett will officiate.