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Community recalls city official's life
Jonathan Williams, the former Brunswick City Commissioner who was always affectionately known as "Coach," is being remembered as an honorable man who loved to work with young people.

Williams died Aug. 10 at Emory University Hospital at Atlanta. Services will be at 2 p.m. today at Greater Works Than These Ministries, 4020 Wylly Ave., Brunswick.

Williams, who served 16 years on the Brunswick City Commission, from 1996 through 2011, when he was defeated by John Cason, was a hard worker and a great role model for the youth of the community, said Walter McNeely, a retired teacher who taught Williams at Risley High School. Williams later became a teacher, himself.

"He was an inspiration for youngsters and set a prime example for young people," McNeely said. "We lost someone we really hate to lose." McNeely also coached Williams in football, basketball and track.

Williams' talents led him to become a coach in all three of those sports at Risley High School in 1963. After the Glynn County School System desegregated in 1970, he became football and track coach at Brunswick High School. He was a graduate of Bethune-Cookman University, with a degree in physical education and health.

While a coach at Risley, Williams met soon-to-be longtime friend Robert Griffin, who was the band director at the school and who moved to Brunswick High as a counselor.

Road games the football teams and bands made together helped the two men forge a lifelong bond, which allowed Griffin to observe how much Williams cared for his students. "He loved young folks so much and worked with them a consistently," Griffin said.

After 30 years in the Glynn County School System, in which he was an assistant principal at Jane Macon Middle School and principal at Risley Alternative School, he retired in 1992. He was elected as North Ward City Commissioner in 1996.

Mayor Bryan Thompson, who worked with Williams for six years, says he would be shocked if anyone could find anything negative to say about "Coach."

"It was a pleasure to serve with him," Thompson said. "He was probably one of the most honorable men I ever met."

* Reporter Martin Rand III covers local news. Contact him at, on Facebook, or at 265-8320, ext. 324.

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