Dr. Benjamin Luke Williams, 86, of Xenia, Ohio passed away peacefully on January 3, 2023.
Ben was born in San Antonio, TX on December 21, 1936 to Raymond H. and Ida Smith Williams.
He was a 1954 graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School in San Antonio, Texas. Ben continued his education at Texas A&M where he graduated in 1959 with his BS in Aeronautical Engineering—later called aerospace, but as he’d say “there was no space back then.” He proudly never received a Masters degree but nonetheless earned a PhD in 1976 at the University of Texas, Austin in Mechanical Engineering and Operations Research. He planned to give a thumbs up and shout, “Gig 'em, Aggies!” as he accepted his doctoral hood on the UT stage, but self-preservation and his mother in the audience made him reconsider as he accepted the honor.
He committed 37 years to the United States Air Force as a civilian engineer providing crucial support during some of the country's most tumultuous times. His tenure ended as the Director of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The next 19 years were not idly spent. Ben worked as a consultant with ARINC and lectured around the globe. As a life-long advocate of teaching and education, he became a professor and then Chair of the Business Administration Department at Central State University, where he was famous for awarding each of his students who finished the final exam with one of his famous waffles.
He was a man of faith and lifelong member of Disciples of Christ. His faith led him to advance the church’s mission through community and outreach. He was an Elder for Central Christian Church in Kettering, Ohio, which was like a second home and the congregation an extension of his family. Ben and his sons made many memories at the twice-a-year Disciples Fellowship Retreat.
Ben often said, “I have a great memory, it just doesn’t last long.” Yet, anyone within earshot would be subject to a lifetime of stories–whether it be how he, an ice-cream scooper, saved a Howard Johnson’s kitchen on a day no managers or cooks showed up or when he ran away from home five times in one day–all but confirming his mother was a saint. The Boy Scouts often came up in conversation but would end in fits of laughter as he recounted guiding young scouts through a cattle processing plant with screams of both bovine and child filling the air. Thankfully his Eagle Scout honors had already been earned.
Among his many stories would be tales of winemaking, early days in San Antonio, his geodesic dome home, and his obsession with Saab cars. Nothing could compare, however, to the stories of his twin sons Timothy and Daniel. Ben was a constant source of encouragement and did all he could to support their curiosities. From their first success at building a fly trap out of household scraps through college and into their professional careers, they were a constant source of pride and are his lasting legacy.
He was preceded in death by his parents Raymond and Ida Williams, sister Barbara Greene, brother Robert (Zulla) Williams, and nephew John Greene.
He is survived by his sons Daniel Williams and Timothy Williams (Alex Snyder). Stepdaughter Jeanette (Jeremy) Gessner. Grandsons Jacob, Isaac and Brady Gesser. Nieces Hillary Williams, Heather Williams, and Margaret Greene. Nephew Tom Greene. Dear friends Chris and Sylvia Sheridon, Scott and Roberta Sponenbergh, and Jim Danik.
In accordance with Ben’s wishes no formal service will be held. The family intends for his final resting place to be near his parents in San Antonio, Texas. In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Ben’s honor to Camp Christian in Ohio with a designation toward “Family Camp” at https://www.ccinoh.com/donation.aspx
Ben would end each visit with the same send off, and if able, he would do the same here, “Bye, for now.”