Guest column: Friend, veteran will be missed

Veterans George Marriott, Jim Stringham, and Gary Williams are proud of the Jefferson County Veterans Memorial. Williams designed the memorial and it contains the names of all the men and women from Jefferson County who served in the armed forces since the Civil War. Photo by Monte LaOrange/Post Register

Photographer: Monte LaOrange/, Date: 11/7/12, Camera: NIKON D3S, Lens: 35, Shutter: 1/100, Aperture: 14, ISO: 200

A good friend and champion of local veterans died earlier this month, writes George Marriott.

Gary Williams was laid to rest at the Rigby Pioneer Cemetery Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. He will be remembered for many things.

Just to mention a few:

The Veteran’s Memorial for all Jefferson County Veterans from all wars, located at south park in Rigby. He planned, designed and supervised the construction of the memorial for much less than the original bid. He then managed the maintenance and made sure all the flags were in good condition.

Gary was an architectural engineer and a great carpenter. Always positive, many had the experience of a “short” conversation with him.

We became acquainted with Gary and some of his friends from Rigby when we were sophomores and juniors from Roberts High School, 1947-1948. Our friendship solidified when we from the Roberts area and those from Rigby joined the National Guard and trained once each month at the old armory on main street in Rigby (now Bishop Cabinet Shop).

We were activated in August 1950, trained at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and served in the Korean War February 1951 through February 1952 (approximate dates). Some left Korea sooner, some later.

When we returned, many joined the American Legion and VFW. Post #1004 VFW owned a little building, now the Rigby Liquor store. In 1961 members of our post, some World War I and World War II and Korean War veterans built the building north of the little building we were in. Walt Eschler, World War I vet, supervised the building of the new post home, now Little Mike’s Bar-B-Que.

Gary’s expertise in building was an asset. He became commander of Post #1004 in 1965. Many of us have participated in hundreds of military rites for our departed comrades. We have also attended sports and other activities of the Rigby schools. Gary and Mary and Joyce and I attended many events together. We had fun, along with others. Friendships are rewarding and forever. Gary was involved with the Jefferson Hills Golf Course alone with his wife, Mary.

Whatever Gary did, he did it with enthusiasm and he also encouraged perfection. His lawn was always groomed and the leaves and limbs from his trees were picked up as soon as they fell. His family was his number one priority. Mary and daughters and sons-in-law, Jana (Dan Windmiller), Julie (Kirk) Hart, were exceptional at TLC for Gary. He was an example of happiness and it was infectious.

When Gary was ill from a skin cancer removal or other physical ailments, you would never know it. Telephone conversations would end with him saying, “If you need anything, give me a call. Mary and I are available, ‘ole kid.”

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be a friend of Gary and Mary. He will be missed. I miss him already. His legacy is etched in stone. His friendship is eternal.

Marriott served in the United States Army in Korea and in the National Guard as a military policeman in Fort Lewis, Wash.