Youth ministry pioneer ‘Big Don’ Williams dies at 75 (updated)
Update: A funeral service for Don Williams is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 19, at the Cyril High School auditorium on Windel Avenue in Cyril, Okla.
Don Williams, one of the first youth ministers among Churches of Christ, died Nov. 15 in Chickasha, Okla. He was 75.
Known as “Big Don,” he grew up in the Cyril Church of Christ in Oklahoma and was a longtime member there.
He fought a long battle against melanoma cancer, minister Doug Graham told The Christian Chronicle. Even though Williams had recovered somewhat in recent months, he repeatedly visited the local hospital — not for treatments, but to encourage others who had been hospitalized, Graham said, adding that Williams was a “tireless worker for the Lord.”
Williams served as a youth minister for the Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas. On the Broadway church’s website, former minister Joe R. Barnett recalls a humorous story involving Williams:
“Big Don” Williams was Youth Minister when I came to Broadway in 1968. He was aggressively recruiting young people to attend Summer Camp, and had camp registration cards displayed throughout the church building.
At the conclusion of one of my first sermons as the new preacher, I extended the customary invitation. A woman came forward. I greeted her, had her take a seat on the front row, and gave her a “Response” card to fill out … I thought.
In a moment, looking perplexed, she motioned to me. I sat down beside her and she said, “I don’t understand this question.”
Now I was puzzled. Response cards are simple enough. All of them I have ever seen are multiple-choice. There are only about 3 things you can do, and you just check the appropriate box. The question she was pointing to asked, “Can you swim?”
Not a comforting question to ask someone who has come to be baptized.
“Big Don” and I had a talk. He didn’t put any more camp registration cards next to the response cards.
In addition to serving in youth ministry, Williams taught at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., and Abilene Christian University in Texas. In 2006, ACU presented Williams, who graduated from the university in 1959, with one its 100 “Centennial Change the World” awards.
Williams was a pioneer of youth ministry and “one of the most popular speakers of his time, sometimes traveling more than 45 weekends a year to speak at youth rallies and retreats all over the country,” according to ACU.
We will post memorial service details when they become available.
FeedbackI met Big Don at Pepperdine as a student in 1981-83. We would have him over for a Bible study at our apartment and it would always be packed. I will miss his servant heart and easy demeanor.Roger WoodsNovember, 15 2012One sermon he gave at my home church still sticks with me. I was pretty young, but his manner of cutting through the fluff to get at the heart of the matter was refreshing and encouraging even then. Here’s to you.Rob WNovember, 15 2012Big Don was a great man! He was always such an encourager and wonderful example. I enjoyed getting to know him while I was at ACU and he was a big influence in my work in youth ministry. Heaven will be all the greater with Big Don!Jeff SellersNovember, 15 2012My name is Doug Graham and I minister here in Cyril where Don retired too. He counseled me and consoled me countless times and I am a better minister for having known him.Doug GrahamNovember, 15 2012LORD, have mercy. I took his courses “Introduction to the Bible” and “Youth Ministry” at Pepperdine. His “free sermons” during class were priceless. He genuinely loved young people and related to them/us unlike anyone I had ever known.David FritzNovember, 15 2012Big Don always had a dollar…for whoever could say the books of the bible the fastest, listen most intently, or even catch a dollar between your pointer and middle finger. He coined the phrase, “the b and w’s”, (pronounced bee and double u’s) at camp when referring to where young “lovers” should not be found, and always warned us to only fall in love with someone who was going to help us get to heaven! He played a wonderful “Delta Dawn” at campfire, read “the Terrible, Horrible,No Good, Very Bad Day” to grown-ups, had a sense of humor as big as a mountain, and a belly laugh to match! And, he always had time for you…at camp, at Pepperdine, where ever….every single one of us was priceless to “Big”!I am only sad, for us, to hear of his passing. Jesus came and got him today, he’s been looking forward to that his whole life. The world is a little bit smaller without him, but we will remember until its our turn to go home. Love you all the way to Jesus and back Big Don! And, thanks for all the dollars!Sallie CoveyNovember, 15 2012Not only one of the first youth ministers, but also one of the best. He a teacher and example for thousands of students, and also an early mentor for other youth ministers across the nation. His humility was only matched by his tireless service.Carl CopeNovember, 15 2012I laughed so much at the response card story. Big Don was a great worker in the Lord’s church. He is home at last.NormaNovember, 15 2012Big Don had a lasting impact on my life. My first youth minister, Big Don stayed in touch into my adult years. His constant love and concern for people, particularly young people, are his legacy. I’ll never forget his laugh, his stories, and the way he viewed his place as a servant in the kingdom. God bless you, Big!Joey CopeNovember, 15 2012I first met Big Don in October of 1973. I had been invited by my youth minister, Eddie Gooch, to attend the Youth MInister’s Seminar at the Broadway Church of Christ in Lubbock. I don’t remember exactly but I believe the seminar was only six or seven years old at that time. It was small enough that it was still held in the YouthReach building with fewer than 100 attendees. It was at this seminar that God called me to full time youth ministry at He used some great men like Big Don to speak to my heart. A couple of years later I was invited to serve as the youth ministry intern at the Broadway church and attend Lubbock Christian University. It was there that the entire direction of my life was set and I will forever be thankful to men like Big Don, Jim Moss, Carl Cope, Eddie Gooch, Jim Hackney, John Paul Blankenship, David Lewis, Tim Lewis, Wally Wilkerson and Mike Myers (and the list could go on) for the influence they had on my decision to serve young people full time.
Some twenty years following that first youth minister’s seminar, as youth minister of the Midtown church in Fort Worth and as a committee member for Soul Lift, I invited Big Don to speak to thousands of young people who gathered at the Arlington Convention Center to worship together. It was no surprise that Big challenged each of us to humbly serve the Lord who loved us enough to die in our place.
Big Don lived up to his name in every way – he laughed big, he lived big and he loved big! He radiated love for everyone he contacted. My life was forever changed by his. Lord God, would you please allow Big a place very near your throne, for that is where he always longed to be! Thank you for sharing this big man and his big heart with so many whose lives were forever influenced for good by him.Brad TeagueNovember, 15 2012Big Don was an awesome teacher, spent time with him in California when he was at Pepperdine. He also was alot of fun and had a great sense of humor! He was taught at our yearly youth camp, Camp Lee in Anniston AL. He loved going down the “slock ride” up in the mountains. You can’t think of Big Don without smiling, lots of great memories, so glad I had an opportunity to reconnect with him recently!! He will definitely be missed.He is in good hands now!Robin VarasNovember, 15 2012The Lord Jesus saved my life. Big Don helped him. Thank you, Big Don.StannaNovember, 15 2012Few people influenced my life more. I long for one of Big’s stories. No one could tell them better. Oh, he could make me laugh. I will eat some See’s Candy in his memory. Thanks Don–You taught me so much about Jesus.Milton JonesNovember, 16 2012Steve and I both met Big Don as youth and He is responsible for introducing us to one another. His love for the Lord was infectious and He is one of the main reasons that we both chose to attend Pepperdine. Upon Pam’s graduation we got married and Big Don was the minister that married us.When our children were born they both received their first bible from Big Don and for the past 32 yrs. we have called him our precious friend. Heaven will be a sweeter place because of his love and praise for our Heavenly Father.Steve and Pam ColvardNovember, 16 2012I first met “Big Don” Williams when I heard him speak at a youth rally outside of Houston, Tx when I was a junior in high school and attending the Westbury church of Christ. Needless to say, he made a BIG impression on me that day. “Big Don” had a way of making Jesus and His message real to young people and adults alike. What a joy it was ten years later to serve as a youth minister myself and have many more occassions to be blessed and impressed by this wonderful man of God over the years. He set the standard for many us younger youth ministers as we served in our own ministries.Judge MorrisNovember, 16 2012Thanks Big Don…. for a lifetime of service… thousands of lives touched… mine included. You have shown us Jesus. Thank You.Frank RileyNovember, 16 2012What a true testimony of living out your life for Christ! Big Don loved the Lord and he wanted all he came in contact with to not only love the Lord but to have a true, genuine relationship with Jesus. He brought messages that touched your heart whether you were young or old! He will definitely be missed on this earth, but I know there are trumpets sounding because one of God’s faithful servants has gained what we are promised-eternal life in heaven. Thank you Big Don for loving, serving and for being such a great example!Lori NeaseNovember, 16 2012What a remarkable man! He never met me at the airport without my favorite box of See’s candy, California Brittle. Love that man! He will truly be missed. Makes heaven just sweeter and sweeter! Love his laugh too!Donna Shewmaker BoltonNovember, 16 2012Big Don was my youth minister at Broadway in the late 60’s. He spoke at our youth forum in Anchorage while I ministered there. I ran into him often in California when I ministered there.
“Big” now refers to the enormous void left in this world without him. But it also refers to the enormous place in our hearts he will always fill.
I recall him expounding on the evils of smoking. A young lady, after the lesson, challenged him; claimed she smoked without those evil consequences.
Big Don gently told her that, no, she didn’t smoke. She insisted she did. Big Don told her, “No, the cigarette smokes. You’re just the sucker.” –Priceless
Big Don. I can’t wait to see you again. And I will.Jerry MeddersNovember, 16 2012My children and I were in Lubbock just after my mother passed away. Big spoke at her funeral. We had breakfast with him that morning and he was hilarious, as usual. My children loved him.
The next morning I woke up my daughter and asked if she wanted to go to breakfast. Bleary eyed and sleepy she said, “No, I want to sleep — wait, is Big Don going to be there?John BarnettNovember, 16 2012As a youth minister in the 1960’s and 1970’s while living in the Chicago area I heard Big Don at an LCC seminar. I knew that our youth group needed to hear his messages. Several times we had him come to the Chicago area to speak to the group on several week-end retreats.
On one occasion I recall he spoke for 2 hours and 10 minutes. The youth were mesmerized by his biblical message as was I. I have never heard a youth minister that was more precise in the messages given that those delivered by Big Don. We were all blessed to have him cross our paths. I know of no one who walked more perfectly in the dust of Jesus’ sandals that my eternal friend “Big.”Vince SwinneyNovember, 16 2012Our family met Big Don in the early 60s at Broadway in Lubbock. The 3 children loved him and especially our youngest when he came to her school PTA program to hear her recite a poem. No matter how many years in between visits, he called us everyone by name. We loved him dearly and God must have been waiting with open arms for such a wonderful man.Mildred JonesNovember, 16 2012I moved to Lubbock in 1966 and met Big Don right away. I was too old for the youth group but I went to all the special youth activities as a young adult to help supervise the youth, also just to listen to Big Don. He taught me so much and influenced my life for Jesus greatly. He also greatly influenced my future husband during those years as well. I never will forget the fun I had with Big Don at the ACU Bible Teacher’s Workshop the summer of 1966.
When our daughters were 2 & 4 they thought Big Don hung the moon. He would come over and buy them ice cream and always give them his change from his pocket every time they saw him. When they were teenager and our son was 8 we went to California on vacation. Big Don met us and gave us a wonderful tour of Pepperdine University, Malibu, Forest Lawn Cemetery and took us to Don the Beachcomber to eat near the beach. My family will never forget Big Don Williams. He was a very special friend and we loved him dearly.Carole ComptonNovember, 16 2012Although I have talked with Big Don only a handful of times in recent years, he was a man I always admired. I first met Big Don at the Thanksgiving Youth Rallies held prior to the opening of the Malibu Campus. His passion for God and His Word. his humor, and his understanding of the world we were living in at that time brought great clarity to my faith. He lived what he taught and as the years passed, so many of us saw his faith consistently reflected in a caring and dedicated life. In my early years at Pepperdine and through struggles I could not have foreseen, Don was an example, a comfort and a guide. I am so glad he is finally home with the God he loves and the friends and family whom I must believe were waiting for him. I know we will all rejoice when our day comes to join him at the feet or our Lord. Such memories…Cheryl GordonNovember, 16 2012I had the privelege of being by our dear friend’s bedside the final three days of his life. He passed with the same grace he lived life. It was as if his enormous spirit just outgrew the 6’5″ frame and went on to be with the Lord. What a joyous reunion for him and the countless souls he lead to Jesus!Peggy HollyNovember, 16 2012There is an endowed scholarship in Don’s name at Pepperdine University if anyone chooses to honor him in that way.Peggy HollyNovember, 17 2012Big Don made a real impression on my life and this world has lost a true servant of the Lord. But there is one thing I know, my mom Maurine Buehler was among the first to give him a big hug. I know she loved having him visit our home. God bless all of his family. No one will ever take his place.Karen Buehler SmithNovember, 17 2012Big Don was one of the most generous people I’ve ever met……time, talent, encouragement, and money……he always was happiest when he was doing something for others. I am blessed to have known him and to have been one of his friends. Though I miss him already, I will see him again and the reunion will be sweet.Kay DawdyNovember, 17 2012Big Don was a powerful positive influence on my life. I look forward to standing before Father someday and pointing to Don and saying, “He helped me know you.”John FrancisNovember, 17 2012Big was always such a friend and mentor both in Lubbock and Los Angeles. But he also knew how to enjoy life to the fullest – when I first started as the Youth minister at the Broadway congregation in Lubbock at age 23, he and Jim Moss (another former Broadway youth minister) stopped by to “have a chat” late on a Tuesday afternoon. I was getting ready for my first large scale youth group Bible study at one of the larger homes of one of our families – most of the sr. high kids were going to be there to officially welcome me and I was nervous. Knowing this, Big said, “Hey, why don’t we go get a coke and visit a bit and then I can just drop you off at your Bible study?” I thought that sounded good, so off we went. We certainly had a good visit, but every time I said something about heading over to the study, he and Jim would shrug and say “Oh we have plenty of time”. When they finally agreed to take me, I was 30 minutes late! They both had a very good laugh about it all and of course, came in to explain what was had happened. Later, I realized there may have been more than a good joke in all that – there are some things just not worth worrying about.
Later, when I moved to LA to start my time at Pepperdine, he made sure I knew how to successfully navigate LAX, find the best restaurants, who I should get to know at Pepperdine and about congregations across the southland. He was someone from home who always took interest in my development and experience, encouraging me every step in ways that only he could do: With wisdom and a lot of laughing.Kent RhodesNovember, 17 2012Big Don was Youth Minister at 25th and Geraldine Church of Christ (now Northwest Church of Christ) in Oklahoma City) before he went to Broadway Church of Christ. He had a huge impact on the youth there as well as the whole church. I reconnected with Don at Pepperdine University when my husband and our family moved to the Thousand Oaks area and we worked for Pepperdine! It was such a privilege to be taught by Big Don!Debra ButterfieldNovember, 17 2012Big heart,loved every one,deep hunger for God and His Word. During the late years of his ministry he came to Camp Bandina to speak three times to our campers. He was at his best.I heard him speak to our youth numerous times over a forty year period. He is the gold standard for youth ministers. The best is yet to be. We will see him again in a better place and for a longer period of time.Gene PolvadoNovember, 17 2012Big Don was a great man. I remember going to Sierra Bible Camp in California in the summertime and it was such a great experience just to get to listen to him. One thing that stands out in my mind about him though is that, even though I was extremely shy, when I tried to talk to him you always had his undivided attention and he was ready to listen to anyone who wanted to talk to him or share something with him. I think all preachers and youth ministers, and just members of the church, would do well to follow his example and try to make sure not to overlook even a quiet little girl who might just want to say hello to you. Everyone was important to Big Don–not just the leadership and those who others may have seen as important. Big Don will be remembered as a great man of God and will be sorely missed.CindyNovember, 18 2012My jamily moved to Broadway while I was in Junior High so that I could be in the Youth Group with Big Don. He was a GIANT of a Man, both physically and spiritually. While he will be missed, he will definitely be remembered for many many years to come.Bill MullicanNovember, 18 2012I got to work with Big Don both speaking at conferences and rally’s together, but in his later years at ACU. He purchased a bible for my wife and I when we got married…his heartfelt message in the inside front cover is a treasure. He was just a real and loving every day in the office as he was before a crowd. Don was the real deal. He lived his faith to the bone and responded to harsh words with gentleness and grace. He should have been honored like a prince. Celebrated like a visiting King, or mourned like a passing world leader. He surely did as much for the real Kingdom. His honor comes in heaven and his tribute in the lives of the thousand’s he touched. Thanks Big Don…you taught us well…we’ll take it from here bro. Go receive your reward. Love you bro – RegReg CoxNovember, 18 2012Big Don was my “hotel roommate” when he was employed by Pepperdine and I was a singer in the Singin’ Travelers in winter 1972. He was always extremely supportive and approachable. I recall him in the hotel as we traveled across country calling his friends from around the world every night! He had *many* friends! He also gave my wife and me a Bible when we got married 29 years ago, which we still have. I will always my friendship with Big Don and my memories of him.Mark ShippNovember, 19 2012He was one of the most kind and gentle men I’ve ever known – always full of encouragement! To know him was to love him. To be around him was to appreciate the tremendous impact that Christ can have on one person’s life, AND how that one life can impact so many others for Christ!Keith ThomasonNovember, 19 2012Only wonderful memories of a wonderful man.
Well done, Big Don.Cathy ShiplyNovember, 20 2012Big Don was such a memorable figure. Had the privilege of hearing him speak on several occasions. We had one special thing in common (besides being members of the Lord’s body), our love for vanilla ice cream covered with chocolate syrup. He could be happy anywhere with those two items available to him. A great servant of the Lord.JoAnn GlockNovember, 27 2012I worked with Big Don at the Woodlawn Church of Christ in Abilene, Texas, from about 1995 to 1999. He was a wonderful resource for our church, our college kids, and the ACU crowd. He encouraged my wife and me many times during our ministry there, in our first years of ministry. He loved to eat at Texas Roadhouse, where they put a free bucket of peanuts at every table. He was such an encourager. He always found something to laugh about. However, he would often tear up whenever his heart was touched. His greatest advice to me was this: don’t worry about people who won’t accept you. If they don’t accept you, it’s their problem. Just stay true to your principles and love everybody, no matter how they feel about you. Big Don, enjoy your reward in Heaven … and please give Bobby Hise a great big bear hug when you see him!Dyron DaughrityNovember, 27 2012Big Don came to Shreveport in the mid 60s for a youth rally and had a big impact on me as a teen. It is amazing how so many people, like Big Don, contribute to making us who we are so many years later.Steve SandiferNovember, 27 2012Never had the pleasure of meeting “Big” Don, but when I was still a young Christian and we were beginning to raise our three children we purchased two albums Don made for youth. I laughed until I cried. It hadn’t occurred to me that you could laugh like that and still be a Christian because the Gospel had been presented to me in such a cold, factual manner. “Big” was really big in our house: He helped me and my children to mold our understanding of God, which up until that time had been much too small. Thank you, “Big.”Gary VillamorNovember, 27 2012I was privileged to go on a campaign with “Big Don” and the Broadway youth group. He was an amazing man with a great heart for people. He will be missed.Debbie BarkerNovember, 27 2012I attended a youth rally in Shreveport, LA on July 10, 1965. At the time, my daddy, Dorice E Mitchell, was the preacher for the church in Cotton Valley. Daddy drove some of us to Shreveport and there I heard Big Don for the first and only time.
Big Don’s sermon convicted me that I needed to make a public confession that I believed in Jesus as the Son of God. I walked forward that night in the pink mohair suit my mother had made and told the adults at the front that I wanted my daddy to baptize me.
Last year, 2011, I was able to speak with Big Don for the first time since that night. I told him that I had never turned away from my commitment to Christ, that I had attended a Christian college and married a Bible major, Dan Cooper, who has now been a minister in New Jersey for forty years.
Big Don told me he was thrilled to hear that my youth rally conversion was genuine. I was able to thank him for the role he had played in my life.
I was saddened to hear that he had left us here, and I am so deeply grateful that we had that conversation last year! I praise God for his life.Katherine CooperNovember, 27 2012“Big Don”, a friend to all and true believer in Jesus Christ. I met Big Don in 1971 when he came to Pepperdine and had the honor of working with him for another 6 years. Thirty years later Don was still the same at ACU when he gave my youngest son his first Bible along with a pop from his office refrigerator. He had a wonderful spirit and a gift with young people. He planted “seeds” in thousands of young people who has since obeyed the Gospel and are following Jesus. All of us can say, “Big Don it was great to be your friend and enjoy your heavenly home with our Savior”…..see you later brother!Mark Young, Trujillo, Colon, HondurasNovember, 27 2012I met “Big Don” when he spoke at a Yuma, AZ youth rally. He spoke about the power of the tongue and as he did so, he had a large beef tongue circulating through the crowd of teens. A message and laughter. He was indeed a blessing to everyone he met.Jane LordNovember, 27 2012I was blessed to be able to attend classes at Pepperdine where Big Don shared his inspiration and passion for youth ministry. I regularly find myself retelling his stories of his dad R(only) B(only) Williams and the Secret weapon of the Toe Gun in James 3. But most of all I try to never miss an opportunity to let a young person know how very much God loves them.Mary Mitchell JamesNovember, 28 2012I had the privilege of attending then Abilene Christian College at the same time as “Big Don.” He always laughed when he saw me as he called me the “other Oklahoma Don.” We were in the Sooner Club at the college and took lots of kidding from others who called us “Okies!”
I last saw Big Don at the Fish ’59 class reunion in Abilene in 2004. The years had not changed him one bit! He was going around telling stories on each one of us he saw, and I guess Mike Richards and I got the brunt of the stories as we were all in Freshman English class together.
Big Don’s zeal and ferver for the Lord’s kingdom never changed. He was a person I can say never changed in his outlook toward spiritual things. Steadfast, unmovable, are the two words I would use to describe him most. I always enjoyed seeing him at class reunions. Truly, he will be missed!
Don. StaffordDr.Don StaffordNovember, 28 2012In 2010, Pepperdine established the Big Don Williams Endowed Scholarship to honor Big Don as a “tireless, selfless servant who blessed thousands of lives around the world.” The scholarship is awarded annually to a Christian student who demonstrates financial need. I had the pleasure of writing Big Don’s brief biography when his named scholarship was established, and he wrote me a beautiful thank-you note. Big Don was truly a beloved servant of our LORD.Larenda RobertsNovember, 28 2012Don had one sibling. Growing up on an Oklahoma farm, struggling to survive, Don and his brother were the mules/horses for plowing the family crops as young men. Experiencing life meant wholly reliance on God’s promises and Don’s roots tugged his big heart. Don boldly proclaimed God to all! Inmeasurable faith and trust in Father God was the basis of Don’s walk on earth. Physically, he experienced severe headaches and other ailments. Diagnosed with melanoma cancer and a few weeks to live, Don’s surrendered loyalty to the Savior rendered him three years beyond that initial diagnosis. This faithful giant’s focus trusted His Provider. Numerous times, he gave all he had to make certain your needs were met, always placing others in honored positions first. Don’s wit provided a bubbling brook for laughter; His home, a safe, secure, warmth from the elements of life. Don appreciated people and didn’t want gifts, but he would gladly accept See’s candies and Precious Moment figurines. He relished in contentment knowing He was a son and child of the Most High! I spoke with him this late August to inform him of my husband’s demise and that’s when we spoke of his latest battle. Fourty-two years, I cherished this wonderful friend, but the underlying unspoken current left no guaranteed time. He never married and often joked about not being able to afford a wife. Marriage was never an issue because Don was married to Christ. Plowing fields yielded a harvest of souls for His Father’s Kingdom, so it was fitting for Don’s spirit to leave during Thanksgiving season. God who formed him in his mother’s womb gave Don his first breath and was present when Don took his last breath transitioning into an everlasting life. Well done, faithful servant, it’s supper time! Don, you portrayed God’s loving spirit and character for all to see, God bless you, humble servant!Anna Marie Valadez-StolteDecember, 4 2012When I was about 7 years old, my family went to Ghana, West Africa as missionaries. Our first few weeks we had to live with the minimum furniture and I recall sleeping on the floor. For some reason, we had a record player and I remember going to sleep listening to Big Don’s “I Dare You” album. I had the whole album memorized. In fact, when I whine or hear someone whining, I think of the poem he quoted so beautifully about “Oh God forgive me when I whine, I’m blessed indeed, the world is mine”.
At 17 I met the man who would become my husband and he lived in CA. The only person I knew of in CA was Big Don. I had never met him but I wrote him and asked him to connect my husband with someone who would help him to know God. Big Don wrote me back with a name and address of the local minister. And the rest is history . . . I did finally get to meet Big Don at Pepperdine.
Sadly, I loaned my record out and it was never returned. Glad I memorized so much of it. Would still love to have a CD of it now.
I remember him saying on the album that he was so bow-legged and his girl friend was so knock-kneed, that they spelled OX when they walked down the sidewalk 🙂
You never know the effect you have on others. Big Don’s words on that album made a difference in my future. The world was better because of him and I was better because of him. Glad he is able to now enjoy his reward.Donna JDecember, 7 2012There was nothing small about “Big Don” Williams. He was a Big Man, and I am not referring to his physical size. He had a Big influence on my life and the lives of countless others. He was a Big thinker and a man of vision. He was a Big servant leader who demonstrated Jesus in his life. He had a Big laugh and he gave Big hugs. “Big Don” Williams was a transformational figure in my life. I believe he was a transformational figure in the churches of Christ as a youth minister, Bible instructor, mentor, and friend to many.
I had the honor of being with “Big Don” on many youth mission trips to New Jersey, Iowa, Utah and other places. On those occasions whether it was a gospel meeting, a teen devotional, or traveling on the bus it was special. Whether we were singing praises to God or celebrating “Christmas in July”, with a tree, lights, and the socks “hung by the chimney with care”, being with Don was always special!
“Big Don” had a wonderful gift of taking his service to the Lord very serious, without taking himself too serious. “Big Don” received many, many awards and honors during his life, however, he rarely spoke about them and instead of keeping them, he would send them to his parents in Oklahoma while they were still living. Don Williams always challenged those around him to be bigger and better for the Lord.
Two of my prized possessions are hand written letters from “Big Don”. One was sent to me after the death of my parents. “Big Don” and my parents were very close friends and shared a special bond with each other. The second letter was a personal message to me sent just a few months before his death. Both letters were “classic Big Don” letters of encourage and inspiration.
Yes, there was nothing small about Don Ray Williams. His service to the Lord and to His church cannot be overstated. Thank you Don for being Big in all the right ways!Dale DarbyDecember, 10 2012It was impossible to outgive Don. He was one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. He always left me smiling or outright laughing. I’m so thankful he shared his friendship with me.Leecia PenrodDecember, 15 2012My dad, John Malone, baptized Don Ray at the Cyril church. It was about 1956. I lost a lot of those Bible book races to him but he let me win a few. His mom and dad were my folks best friends. We used to go to the refinery at Cyril to take him lunch while he worked in the summers.john roy maloneMay, 14 2013