In Memory of



Obituary for Joseph Williams

Joseph Raymond Williams (b. June 15, 1932) passed away June 22, 2021 of acute leukemia. He was born in New Providence, Iowa, the fifth child of Malo and Luther Williams. His four siblings were Lowell, Paul, John, and Lois. The house in which he was born had a dirt floor, no running water, and no electricity! When he was five, the family moved to their farm approximately four miles out of town which had those amenities.

His childhood was filled with farm life. He raised hogs for 4 - H and was a member of Future Farmers of America. He was a good student and active in basketball and baseball as well as the Friends Church of New Providence. He also sang in a renowned quartet. Upon graduation from high school, he headed off to the University of Iowa where he was a member of the SAE fraternity and ROTC while majoring in political science.

However, Air Force ROTC enamored Joe with the career of a pilot and he soon found himself in basic pilot training April, 1955 at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX. This was followed by more pilot training in June, 1955 at Bartow, Florida. January of 1956 found him in Advanced Pilot Training in Laredo, TX. By June of 1956, Joe was in the Fire Control School at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver. In January of 1957, he was in Shaw, South Carolina doing electronic maintenance on B-66 aircraft. He flew T-33’s and eventually RF101 aircraft.

In December 1959, he was based in Masawa, Japan flying RF101’s over Vietnam. 1962-1964 found Joe in the RF101 Squadron that executed photo reconnaissance over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The aerial photography over Cuba earned him the United States Air Force Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was the formation’s lead pilot for a fly-over for President John F. Kennedy.

Eventually, he flew photo reconnaissance in various locations in Europe - England and Loan Air Force Base in France. While abroad, he established himself as an expert marksman, competing in international skeet shooting events, ultimately securing the title of European Open Champion in 1967. After 12 ½ years of active service in the United States Air Force he joined an Air Force Reserve unit in Los Angeles, CA where he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and completed a total of 28 years of service in the United States Air Force. In October 1967, he became a commercial pilot for United Airlines, retiring from United in April, 1997. At United, he flew DC - 8, 727, 747, and DC-10 aircraft.

In 1969, he met TWA Flight Attendant Jeannette Webeler. They married six years later and had two daughters Kathryn (Katie) Mills and Carrie Rebecca. Joe embraced fatherhood. He was conscientious about their school work and selflessly volunteered in many of their extracurricular activities including competitive swimming & Girl Scouts.

As a registered Girl Scout, he participated in many troop events. His involvement earned him the prestigious “Good Guy” Award from the Orange County Girl Scout Council. Joe’s service inspired many scout fathers to engage with their daughters and helped men feel comfortable participating in scouting.

A lifelong learner in retirement, Joe recaptured his love of music by taking lessons on his high school trombone. He was a guest performer at Drake University in the Drake Bulldog Brass, playing in the trombone section with daughter Carrie during a men’s basketball game. He took voice lessons to improve - even working on a few opera pieces. He also joined the Tustin Presbyterian Church choir and sang with it for seventeen years. At that point, he retired from the choir and returned to piano lessons that had initially begun with his sister Lois when they were children.

Approximately thirty years ago, the family purchased their home in New Providence, IA. As an active member of the community, Joe could be found at the pancake breakfasts both at the Roundhouse and in town for Monday morning, masterfully flipping pancakes or omelettes for guests. Occasionally, he sang special music for the Honey Creek New Providence Friends Church.

In 2007, he began biking. Following the direction of his guide, he learned how to maneuver a 21 speed bike and enjoyed biking several trips through Europe with Jeannette, (mostly--he tended to leave her in the lurch!), completing his last trip in 2016 through Belgium.

He was proud “Papapa” to Camden Olivia (10), Cru Patrick (8), Remington Paige (6), and Bodhi Christian (5) Swenson as well as Adelaide Leigh (8), and Lochlyn Joseph (5) Krupke . He is survived by wife Jeannette of 45 years, daughters Katie (Eric) Swenson of Salt Lake City, Utah & Carrie (Gerard) Krupke of Norwalk, Iowa.