Lt. Colonel James R. “Bob” Williams, Jr. (1924-2017)

Class of 45-G-TE on November 16, 1945, 2nd Lt. (O2068906)

Lt. Colonel Bob Williams was a charter member of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen

The Congressional Medal of Honor was awarded to Bob Williams and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen by President George W. Bush in the White House in 2007 and he was very proud to wear it

Dr. James Robert Williams Jr., an accomplished physician and Tuskegee Airman, died on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, at Bryn Mawr Extended Care. He was 93. As a Tuskegee Airman, he was in class 45-G-TE and graduated on October 16, 1945 as a 2nd Lt. Williams was known by his friends as “Bob.” He lived a long and fulfilling life, with an extensive medical and military career. He was born on April 21, 1924 to the late James and Willie Mae Banks in Bryn Mawr. He attended Lower Merion Senior High School in Ardmore and graduated from Muhlenberg College in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science.

Williams then attended Meharry Medical College where he earned his medical doctorate in 1955. He did his physician internship at Frankfort Hospital from 1955 to 1956 and was a surgical resident at Mercy-Douglas Hospital and Coatesville General Hospital in Coatesville from 1956 to 1957. Following this, he became a resident in Pathology at Hines Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Hines, Ill., from 1959 to 1963.

In 1964, Williams returned, with his family, to Bryn Mawr and became the director of Pathology at Mercy-Douglas Hospital. He worked in similar administrative positions at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital and the Veteran’s Administration Hospital before becoming the director of Laboratories at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in 1976 where he stayed until his resignation in 1991. Williams was a member of the American Medical Association and served as vice-president and then president of the Medical-Dental staff from 1979 to 1986 at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.

Williams served in the military from 1943 to 1973. His service is historic as he was a part of the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen, earning his navigator, bombardier and twin-engine bomber pilot wings in 1945. He ranked as a first lieutenant at his discharge in 1946 and from 1967 to 1973 he served as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve.  Williams was beloved by his close family and friends for his wit and dry humor and known for his quick one-liners that kept everyone laughing.

Williams’ knowledge and medical expertise served the Philadelphia area, his family, and many others. His service with the Tuskegee Airmen also inspired many over the years, as he made speaking engagements at schools and events. He was honored by an invitation to former President Barack Obama’s 2009 presidential inauguration along with his Tuskegee Airmen associates. Williams was always active and loved aviation, golf, jogging, gardening, lawn care, and trips to the Philadelphia Zoo with his family. Williams was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Elizabeth “Betty” Williams.