Springfield veteran Lester ‘Skip’ Williams remembered in the arts, entertainment community


SPRINGFIELD — Lester “Skip” Williams is 1 of three men […]

SPRINGFIELD — Lester “Skip” Williams is 1 of three men who served to install the Vietnam Memorial Monument at Mason Square.

As a single of the oldest monuments erected whilst the war was nevertheless in progress and 1 of the only monuments that honors African American Vietnam veterans in the country, Williams’ legacy will be remembered in the Springfield arts and enjoyment community for his philanthropy and commitment to his region.

Williams, who died on July 9, experienced a lightsome and joyful individuality that was infectious, explained William “Billy” Myers, Williams’ nephew and artistic director and main curator for Art for the Soul Gallery in Springfield.

A memorial will be held Nov 14 at 3 p.m. at the Massachusetts Veterans Cemetery in Agawam. In lieu of bouquets, donations to Properties for Our Troops and National Indian Council on Getting old can be made in Williams’ honor.

Born in Springfield, in 1936, Williams attended school in the city and afterwards served in the U.S. Military during the Korean War.

Eddie Lee was 10 several years old when Williams was discharged from the Military. They lived on the similar road and grew to become like brothers.

“Skip was already putting on a ton of talent demonstrates and concert events,” Lee claimed. “There was so considerably expertise and he gave artists a platform to sing, dance and showcase their expertise. So many teams arrived from all about.”

In accordance to Lee, the journey into the audio marketplace introduced Williams to the Los Angeles area, wherever he labored with entire world-renowned artists and as a street supervisor for the Motown team The Originals.

The granite monument commenced off as a kitchen area table desire immediately after Williams read the back-to-again horrible information that two of his pals, U.S. Army Pvt. Gus Stovall Jr. and Military Spc. Ronald Charles Hurst, were being killed in Vietnam.

“Once he listened to of our good friends Ronny and Gus passing, he begun to keep additional live shows to elevate dollars for the monument in, at that time, what we known as Winchester Square. That is where by we would all cling out and appreciate each individual other’s organization, particularly on the weekends,” Lee claimed.

Williams, who when referred to as Springfield a “little Motown,” was encouraged to roll up his sleeves and make a little something huge transpire.

Williams collaborated with nightclub operator Richard Sibilia, local promoter and photographer James B. Bradley and the enjoyment local community for a sequence of live shows that ended up productive fundraisers.

Put in in 1968, the monument adorned with an eagle and wings elevated previously mentioned its head honors the Black citizens and citizens of the community who gave their life in the war.

The tall stone has a middle concept, 3 stars and is adopted by the names of Hurst, Stovall, Marine Lance Cpl. David Lee Owens, Army Spc. Norman Carl Farris and Air Pressure Sgt. James Cecil Starnes.

The monument reads, “In memory of the Negro adult men that gave their lives in Vietnam in service of their country.”

At the 50-12 months commemoration of the monument, the eagle’s wings were enhanced with gold and Mayor Domenic J. Sarno marked June 15, 2018, as “Skip Williams Day” in the metropolis of Springfield.

Williams, who had by that time moved to Lancaster, California, satisfied up back again up with his neighborhood pal Lee.

“We have been 5 minutes absent from each and every other,” explained Lee, who nevertheless life in Lancaster. “He was the most beloved guy I realized. He realized everyone and everybody knew him. I normally told him I would give him his accolades right before he passed. From 1999 until his passing, we have been generally shut.”

Williams was a very pleased father, grandfather, wonderful grandfather, uncle and buddy.

In addition to operating with veterans, Williams was also an lively participant in Indigenous American communities.

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