Perry R. Williams, former dean of Trinity Cathedral, Cleveland, Ohio, dies at 84

August 15, 2008

The Very Rev. Perry Roberts Williams, former dean of Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio, died on July 22 at his home in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. He was 84.

Williams was dean of Trinity for 21 years, from 1968 until his retirement in 1989. He was a guest lecturer at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1989 to 1993, and had previously been a trustee of Virginia Theological Seminary (1982-85). He also served on the General Board of Examining Chaplains from 1972 to 1976, and wrote two articles for the Alban Institute Journal (“They Can’t Do That to Emily!” and “On your Mark, Get Ready, Get Set, Go!”).


Before beginning his work at Trinity, Williams was rector of Emmanuel Church in Geneva, Switzerland (1961-68), rector of Grace Church in Orange, New Jersey (1956-61), associate rector at Christ Church, Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (1952-1956), and rector of St. John's Church in Sharon, Pennsylvania (1951-52).


Perry Williams was born on June 13, 1924, in Rockville Center, Long Island, New York, Perry was raised in Hempstead and Garden City, New York. He was graduated in 1941 from St. Paul's School in Garden City and earned a bachelor’s degree in music and English in 1947 at Amherst College. His college term was interrupted by two years of service as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, during which he served in the Pacific during World War II. He receive a master's degree in music from Yale University in 1949, and a master's in divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1951. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1961.


Williams was married in 1948 to Elizabeth Anne Ballentine, who died in 2003. Williams is survived by their three children: David B. Williams (Robin Mahler) of Bethesda, Maryland, Sarah C. Williams Wilson (Joseph D.C. Wilson III) of Sewickley, Pennsylvania; and Jeffrey P. Williams (Zeva Ellman Williams) of Oakland, California; his sister Gwendolyn Spencer (Richard Spencer) of Bloomfield, Connecticut; six grandchildren, a niece, nephews and numerous grandnieces.


A memorial service was held on August 11 at St. John's Church in Jamaica Plain. Contributions in Perry's memory may be made to the Greater Food Bank of Boston, P.O. Box 55860, Boston, MA 02205-5860; or to the Alzheimer's Association, 311 Arsenal Street, Watertown, MA 02472.

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