Marion P. Williams passed away peacefully Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at Hilton Head Hospital on one of those glorious bright and sunny South Carolina days he so much loved. His wife of forty-nine years, Paula, was by his side holding his hand.
Marion was born January 24, 1946 in Salem, Indiana to Ruth Calloway Williams and Cecil Williams. He grew up on the land his grandparents had farmed all their lives, and he lived in the same white farmhouse where his mother had been born. A strong work ethic was instilled in him on the farm.
His love of work and his self-discipline served him well in school. He started his formal education at Pleasant View, a one-room schoolhouse where Grades 1-6 gathered with their one teacher for daily lessons. Marion always felt his early school life had prepared him very well for all that was to come. Graduating from Salem High School in 1964, Marion went on to Purdue University where he met his life-long mentor and friend, Dr. Phillip E. Nelson. In 1968, he earned his B.S. in Agriculture with Distinction. In 1973, he earned his Ph.D. in Food Science and was Dr. Nelson’s first Ph.D. graduate.
Marion’s intellect and business talents took him all over the world. In 1973, he took a position with Carnation Company in California and was named Assistant Director of Product Development. With Carnation, he travelled the world helping create new markets and products. In 1978, Anderson Clayton Foods recruited him to be their Director of New Product Development in Richardson, Texas. In 1982, Kraft Foods recruited him to be their Director of Research and Development in Chicago. He was the youngest professional Kraft had ever hired at that level, and he eventually became the Vice President of Technology. In 1993, Marion became Welch’s Senior Vice President of Technology in Concord, Massachusetts. He chose to retire from Welch’s in 2003 at the age of fifty-seven. His professional talents were recognized with several honors. In 1983, he was awarded the Kraft Merit Award and Jade Ring to “mark...meritorious service and unusual initiative…” In 1991, Marion received the Philip Morris Chairman’s Award for “…extraordinary contributions having a significant and lasting impact on the corporation…”
Throughout his life, Marion remained a loyal Purdue Boilermaker. In 2000, Purdue University gave him the Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award for “…your professional achievements…” Purdue again recognized him with the 2003 Outstanding Food Science Award “…for leading the way.” Marion always felt his greatest joy in his professional life was to mentor numerous young men and women as they began their careers. The greatest mentor in Marion’s life was Dr. Phillip E. Nelson, and to honor him, Marion and Paula created The Phillip E. Nelson Endowment for Excellence at Purdue.
Marion and his wife, Paula, retired to the South Carolina Lowcountry in 2003 and built a home in the Colleton River Club. They called it “Camp Colleton,” because all the joys of a happy retirement were readily available there. In the early years, they played in every golf tournament and event. Marion helped build four Habitat for Humanity homes and served several years on Colleton’s Architectural Review Board. At one point, Marion and his wife co-chaired Colleton River’s Operation Santa benefitting Bluffton families. They also worked several years with Colleton River’s Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation Committee to provide college scholarships for children of Marines. Colleton River became a welcoming home to Marion and Paula and enriched their lives with many friends.
Throughout his life, Marion was a giver. He gave of his talents and experience to help and mentor others. He was a willing caregiver to aging parents and looked after their every need. He loved hearing news of his niece and nephews’ many accomplishments, and he offered a helping hand and words of encouragement to family and friends. Marion was a dear husband, a devoted son, a loving uncle, and a true friend. He is survived by his wife, Paula, nephew Andy Williams (Susan and children Grace and Garrett) of Bloomington, nephew Chuck Williams (daughter Charlee) of Hardinsburg, niece Lana Williams of Indianapolis, sister-in-law Betty Williams of Salem, and dear friends John and Mary Mead of Salem.
For their superb, loving care, Marion’s family will be forever grateful to
the Hilton Head Hospital Doctors and Nurses, Griswold Home Care, and Tidewater Hospice.
If desired: Contributions may be made to The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.
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