ADRIAN - Richard D. Williams, a senior process engineer who helped Tecumseh Products Co. set up plants around the country and a staunch Democrat who was elected to the school board, as a township supervisor, and a county commissioner, died Sunday in Lenawee Medical Care Facility. He was 85.
He was in failing health the last six weeks, his son Ronald said.
Mr. Williams retired in 1982 from Tecumseh Products, a compressor and engine manufacturer formerly based in Tecumseh, Mich. He bought lines of equipment for Tecumseh plants around the country and then set up the assembly lines.
"He was very persistent and good with detail," his son said.
Mr. Williams started as a tool-and-die apprentice "and took that as a base and moved on to the field of engineering," his son said. He took courses at Adrian College, Jackson Community, and Lansing Community College.
He was a member of the Sand Creek Board of Education for 16 years, beginning in the late 1950s. He sat on a committee to plan what was the Lenawee Area Vocational-Technical Education Center, which opened in 1970. Next he served 16 years as Madison Township supervisor. He served six years as a Lenawee County commissioner, representing District 7. He worked to bring a state prison to the county, his son said, and this was the Gus Harrison Correctional Facility, which opened in 1991.
He bowled with a Tecumseh Products league and golfed for years at Woodlawn Golf Club near Adrian.
He and his wife were traveling companions of Sandra and Bob Roe. After Mr. Roe died, they invited Mrs. Roe along. When Mrs. Roe married Russ Hyatt, he was welcome, too. The foursome went to Branson, Mo., and Lancaster and Gettysburg, Pa., and took annual trips to northwest Lower Michigan. Mr. Williams preferred not to shop, so he let the others browse while he waited on a bench.
"We'd come back and he had two or three people around him. He was telling stories," Mr. Hyatt said. "We had a lot of good times."
He was born Nov. 6, 1924, to Matilda and Harry Williams. He was a 1942 graduate of Adrian High School. An Army veteran of World War II, he was on the front lines in Europe, his son said. He was a past commander of VFW Post 1584. A Mason, he was a past master of Fairfield Lodge.
Surviving are his wife, Marian, whom he married July 7, 1946; sons, Ronald and Steven Williams; brother, Lavon Williams; sisters, Lorraine Williamson and Beverly Smith; seven grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Visitation will continue from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. today in the Anderson Funeral Home, Adrian, where services will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.
The family suggests tributes to Sand Creek Community Church, Sand Creek, Mich., where he was a lifelong member.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: