At 99 years of age, retired Wheeling newspaper executive vice-president John R. Williams continued to emphasize the positives of a long life well lived.
Williams, most recently a resident of the Elmhurst House of Friendship, died Friday at Liza's Place near Oglebay.
It was fitting that Williams was surrounded by his loved ones when he died, as his greatest joy in life was his family.
He and his late wife, Frances, known to all as "Pinkie," had three sons who enriched their lives with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He also is survived by a sister.
Williams joined the Ogden Publishing Group of newspapers in 1950 where he participated in the expansion of the newspaper business in Wheeling and throughout the chain.
After his wife's death, Williams moved into Elmhurst, the House of Friendship in Wheeling where he also served on the board and as president.
He made quick friends at the residential facility and hosted his own 99th birthday party there last fall, treating all of the residents and his family to cake and ice cream.
Jamie Crow, executive director at Elmhurst, said Williams will be "sorely missed" by all who knew him.
"The last day with John that I want to keep in mind is sitting on a bench at the rear of our building. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon and John was so happy. He lived life to the fullest ... every day he took a walk," Crow said. "He made many friends here and everybody who crossed paths with him came away a richer person."
Crow noted that Williams adorned the walls of his room at Elmhurst with photographs of his late wife, "his boys," the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
"John was always positive. He always had a smile on his face. He gave me things to think about and was a true southern gentleman," she added.
Prior to retirement and for years after, Williams served on a number of boards including The Linsly School, Ohio Valley Medical Center, Wheeling Housing Authority, the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, Oglebay Institute and the Wheeling Symphony.
He was a member of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church where services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday.