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Published: 7/21/2009

Ex-teacher directed, wrote several plays

Roy E. Williamson, 84, of Monclova Township, a World War II veteran and a retired teacher and theater director, died July 11 in St. Luke's Hospital.

He died of a burst aneurysm, his longtime friend Gary Burke said.

Mr. Williamson was born in 1924 in Continental, Ohio, and graduated from Defiance High School in 1942. He served in Normandy, northern France, the Rhineland, and the Ardennes during World War II and was awarded five Bronze Stars. He received the Belgian Croix De Guerre citation from France in 2001.

In 1949, Mr. Williamson graduated from Defiance College with a bachelor's degree. He taught English, speech, and drama in a variety of public high schools until 1978. After retiring from public school teaching, he taught at Toledo's St. Ursula Academy and the former Holy Spirit Seminary.

"As a teacher, he was way ahead of his time. He loved his students," said the Rev. Patrick Rohen, a former student of Mr. Williamson and retired Army captain from Sandusky. "He was the finest teacher I ever had in my life."

Father Patrick, who graduated from Anthony Wayne High in 1975, stayed in touch with Mr. Williamson until his death and had kept in contact with him while he was in Korea. He said Mr. Williamson would describe himself as an "Emersonian transcendentalist."

He loved literature, and although he was not religious, Father Patrick found him to be deeply spiritual. "That literature almost became a spiritual form for him. It's like he read it with a sense of spirituality."

Mr. Williamson volunteered to read to children in Whitehouse regularly. "He was very good at reading to children," Father Patrick said. "He could make literature come alive."

Mr. Burke was also a student of Mr. Williamson's at Anthony Wayne and knew him for nearly 50 years. He said Mr. Williamson had many students who visited him constantly, and one had contacted him just three weeks ago.

Mr. Williamson loved theater and the opera, and traveled across the country and around the world to attend festivals such as the Stratford Shakespeare festival and the Shaw Festival. He directed, wrote, and acted in many plays.

Anthony Wayne High School's Roy Williamson Center for the Performing Arts is named in his honor. He had his last performance there in 2002 in The Man Who Came to Dinner.

He enjoyed operas and symphonies in Toledo and was a member of the Whitehouse Library charter board, the Waterville Playshop board, Toledo Theater Rocks, Toledo Opera Sponsor, Toledo Museum of Art, and Stratford Shakespeare Festival of America, and contributed significantly to the New York Metropolitan Opera. He was also a member of the American Legion Post 0384 in Whitehouse and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3360 in Defiance.

His life partner, David Larabee, died in 2005.

Surviving are his brothers, Kenneth and Robert, and sisters, Alice and Ruth.

Services will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Roy Williamson Center for Performing Arts at Anthony Wayne High School.

The family requests donations to Defiance College, the David Larabee Scholarship Fund at Ottawa Hills High School, or the Whitehouse Library.



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