Friends remember Sam Williams | SummitDaily.com

Friends remember Sam Williams

NICOLE FORMOSAsummit daily newsSummit County, CO Colorado
Summit Daily file photo/Mark Fox
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BRECKENRIDGE Sam Williams, a former Breckenridge Town Councilman and state legislator known locally for his friendly personality and dedication to mountain issues, died on Nov. 20 of prostate cancer. He was 73.A memorial will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday at the Whatley Chapel on the Johnson & Wales University campus in Denver, where Williams was an assistant professor.Williams moved to Breckenridge in the late 1970s after retiring as a lieutenant colonel from the Army and started selling real estate for Breckenridge Realtor Bob Girvin. After a couple years, he formed his own property management company called International Traders, which focused on short-term rentals, Girvin said.He served on the Breckenridge Town Council from April 14, 1978, to Feb. 26, 1980, according to Town records.He was a straightshooter an honest man with integrity, said Chuck Struve, who was the Towns mayor during Williams tenure on council. Girvin also served on the council with Williams and described him as a great compromiser.Williams progressed his political career in 1986 with a move to the state House of Representatives, where he served for eight years. When he lost his seat to Breckenridge Republican Bryan Sullivant in 1994, the Democrat Williams was the minority leader in the Republican-led House.He was very helpful, said longtime local and former state representative Gary Lindstrom who knew Williams well. He was the kind of legislator you could call him and he would jump on your issues immediately and try to get your information right away.Lindstrom was the county coroner at the time and made a meager $25 per body for the job, but that changed when Williams took office. He sponsored legislation that allowed county commissioners to set the salary for the coroner, which paid off nicely for Lindstrom.My salary went from $700 a year to about $10,000 a year, he said.Even while Williams was spending his days at the state Capitol, he continued to live in Breckenridge and was incredibly well-liked in the town of only about 800 back then.He was gentle, a very fun guy to be around; (he had a) great sense of humor, said friend Dick Orwig. When he lived here, he was pretty well-known because he was a black guy in the middle of all the white guys. It was pretty simple.One of the things friends remember about Williams is that every Fourth of July, he and a few other men would don head-to-toe Civil War attire and lead off the annual parade.They were pretty darn impressive. They had the swords and the whole bit, Orwig said.Girvin, whose kids were in Summit schools at the same time as Williams, said Williams and his wife, Gladys, never missed a school event.Williams and his family moved to the Front Range following his time in the legislature, but Williams stayed connected with the Breckenridge community, coming up to ski every now and then.Assistant Breckenridge Town manager Kate Boniface last saw Williams a few years back at the grand opening of the Barney Ford House. He looked great then, said Boniface, who first met Williams when she was a teenager living in Germany where her father was stationed as a civilian with Williams.Boniface remembers her nearly lifelong friend fondly.He was so calm and very quietly funny. He wasnt a loud, raucous person, he was just very quietly funny. He exuded kindness and calmness. Everybody says nice things about someone when they pass on, but I truly mean this, Sam was incredibly positive about everything, Boniface said.In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sam Williams Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank. Money will go to prostate cancer research at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, the 100 Black Men of Denver scholarship fund and the Johnson & Wales scholarship fund.Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at nformosa@summitdaily.com.


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