TRAVERSE CITY — Dr. Lyman O’Dell Williams, Ph.D., died on Monday, July 22, 2013, at Willow Cottage, Grand Traverse Pavilions. He was embraced by the sounds of his beloved pipes and the affection of his family, friends and hospice caregivers.
Born on April 1, 1934, Easter Sunday, in College Station (Happy Valley), Pa., he was the son of Lt. Colonel Lyman and Carolyn Long Williams.
Growing up in a military family he would lose his father at age 11 to a kamikaze bomber in the Pacific. This event shaped Lyman’s life, leading to an intense interest in World War II history and a strong allegiance to the Boy Scouts. The Scouts helped fill a void as they did in the lives of many young fatherless boys of his generation. He loved camping, hiking the Appalachian Trail, biking, long distance runs and being outdoors.
He leaves his wife, Joan; sons, Douglas and Russell (Joelle Sherman); and grandchildren, Tilly and Finn. He also leaves stepchildren, Julie (Patricia Ansuini), Carl and Stephen (Jill) Poposki; and granddaughter, Alexia. In addition, he is survived by his sister, Nan Williams; five nieces and nephews; and numerous cousins.
For 37 summer seasons Lyman was a faculty member at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and co-curator of Interlochen’s Walter Hastings Museum. Fondly remembered as the “teacher with sand on his knees,” he taught environmental science classes, engaging the campers in the Michigan outdoors, hikes, water measurements and hands-on science projects.
Lyman’s love of rocks and the science of the earth led him to a teaching career as professor of geology. He served on the faculty at East Tennessee State University, Monmouth College in Monmouth, Ill., and Phillips University in Enid, Okla.
Students at Monmouth College recruited him as faculty advisor for their start-up college pipe band. He learned to play bagpipes, and they became a passion in his life. No one looked more handsome in kilt and dress attire. A member of Grand Traverse Pipes and Drums, Lyman is remembered over nearly 40 years for his performances in parades, concerts, competitions, school programs, private parties, weddings, funerals and art openings. He was true to his love and loyal to his “Band of Brothers.”
Light is sometimes hard to find in this world but it shone in Lyman’s face whenever he spoke of his love of the earth and the rocks, minerals, fossils and strata that mark the perpetual processes of our shared plant. They were materials of the bridges he built between himself and all who would listen and learn.
Lyman was the kindest and most gentle of men, devoted to his family, students and friends. His love was always strong, steady and enduring.
An informal gathering will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, 2013, at the Life Story Funeral Home, Traverse City. A brief ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m.
Memorial contributions may be made to Interlochen Public Radio, PO Box 119, Interlochen, MI 49643 or online at http://ipr.interlochen.org/.
Please visit Lyman’s webpage at www.lifestorynet.com to sign the online guestbook and share a message or memory with his family.