Tommy Williams could not attend the Hall of Saints Harvest Celebration induction ceremony, and that’s a shame, because his name came up over and over in interviews with this group of honorees.
For those of us who arrived on campus too late to have the experience of working with Tommy, his retirement doesn’t make a lot of difference because the man is larger than life. He is loved by so many people that it feels as though he is practically embedded in the bricks of campus.
Tommy Williams earned his associates degree from SCCC in 1975, and soon after he took up teaching duties. By the college’s 25th anniversary, he had become the fiscal officer of the institution — what we would refer to these days as the Vice President of Finance and Operations. For that silver anniversary, Tommy wrote a reminiscence that looked back to his sophomore year in high school when he struggled to write an assigned research paper.
“I sought the help of Marry Anna Brown, who was director of the college library at that time,” he wrote. “From that day on, I have believed that SCCC is the place to be — a place where helping and learning are paramount.” His tribute went on to list early Saints greats like Pauline Toland, Doug Radohl, Herb Hobble, and more. He recalled the experience of moving to the “new” (current) campus while construction was ongoing: “We used board walkways until the cement was poured.”
Current facilities director Roger Scheib has vivid memories of reporting to Tommy as supervisor. “He would take a notepad and walk across campus with us, making a list of things that needed attention, from light bulbs to landscaping and painting, and then he would follow up with you until it was done.”
Current Chief Information Officer Louie Lemert credits Tommy, a longtime family friend, with recruiting him to the world of higher ed, while giving sound advice about how college work differed from the private sector.
And countless long-time employees have their own stories about calling for credit card help while traveling, wrestling through budget creation, and sharing a friendly drink with the man himself, AFTER the buck had stopped in his office.
Even those who don’t know Tommy are thankful for him and his insistence on excellence, education, and good manners. The old-school is always needed. This tribute is best ended with this classic Tommy bon mot:
“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”