For Thomas G. Williams Sr., PharmD ’99, BSP ’80, being a pharmacist was more than a profession. It was an opportunity to serve others, says his son, Thomas Williams Jr., PharmD ’06, RPh.
Following his death at age 55 from kidney cancer in February 2010, a fund has been established at the School of Pharmacy to name a space after the elder Williams in the new Pharmacy Hall Addition. Contributions in his memory are now going to fund the Thomas G. Williams Sr. Memorial Alcove.
“My father demonstrated extreme moral character and an exemplary drive to serve others on a day-to-day basis,” says the younger Williams, who manages a Wal-Mart pharmacy in West York, Pa. “He was never too busy to take time out of his day for his patients. I remember him going into work on a day the pharmacy was closed and filling an emergency prescription for a customer – not because he had to, but because it was the right thing to do.”
The elder Williams worked at WellSpan Health in Pennsylvania as the manager of the Dallastown store. Under his leadership, it provided community pharmacy services as well as an anticoagulation clinic and an immunization clinic. He also served as a preceptor for students from several schools of pharmacy, with the majority coming from the University of Maryland.
“My father inspired me to become a pharmacist in many different ways,” says Williams. “In my early teenage years, I began volunteering where my father worked in the pharmacy, and I began to realize the impact pharmacists have on health care and the community. I became a pharmacist because my father showed me that it is possible to love what you do and help others at the same time.”
The elder Williams’ example also inspired his daughter-in-law, Alice, to attend the School, where she is in the Class of 2012. His younger son hopes to attend the School as well in several years.
A longtime friend and colleague, Angelo C. Voxakis, BSP ’71, says that to know Williams was to love him. “He was a very funny guy and an excellent pharmacist, great with the public,” says Voxakis, who is president and CEO of EPIC Pharmacies. “He was the kind of pharmacist that patients just attached to.”
Thomas Williams Jr. praises his father’s perseverance in facing challenges and solving problems. “My father was special because he would never let anyone tell him something could not be done. He grew up as one of six children of a poor family. He worked to pay for his own private high school tuition and paid for his own college education with the help of my mother,” Williams says. “He worked several jobs at once, during school and after, to support his family and provide for us.”
A loyal and proud School alumnus, the senior Williams was a member of the David Stewart Associates, a giving society for leadership donors, and was a past president of the School’s Alumni Association.
“I think my father would wish to be remembered as a proud yet humble man who loved his family very much,” says Williams. “Also that he always tried to do the right thing in the face of adversity, while empathizing with the human condition, and that he tried to make the world a better place on a personal level, one patient at a time.”