Sept. 4, 1934-Nov. 1, 2017
Dr. Kenneth L. Williams of Natchitoches passed away Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, surrounded by his family, after a long battle with cancer. He was born to Louis and Dorothy Williams Sept. 4, 1934 in Saybrook, Ill.
He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Viola Stoehr Williams; two daughters, Michele (Michael) Lutz, Christine (Robert) Pipes; son-in-law, Ronnie Self; six grandchildren, Thomas and Daniel Pipes, Allyson (Chris) and Mitchell Lutz, Grayson Self and Ronna (Josh) Boyd; three great-grandchildren, Sawyer and Tucker Boyd and Zoey Pipes.
He was predeceased by his parents and two brothers, Roger and David Williams; daughter, Kimberly Self; and great-grandson, Hudson Boyd.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army from 1954-56 and served in the guided missile division of the artillery.
Dr. Williams, a world-renown herpetologist, earned a B.S. (1959) and M.S. (1961) in zoology from the University of Illinois. He received his Ph.D. in zoology from Louisiana State University in 1970.
He began his teaching career at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., as an instructor of zoology from 1962-64. In 1964, he was an instructor at Tulane University. Dr. Williams began his tenure at Northwestern State University in 1966 in the Department of Biology. During his 34-year career he taught numerous courses ranging from human and comparative anatomy to evolution and herpetology. During his career he oversaw the completion of the Master’s work of six students and served on committees of approximately 18 other Master’s degree students. Dr. Williams proposed and received numerous grants for research ranging from studying reptiles and amphibians of the local longleaf piney woods to the flora and fauna of the cloud forests of Honduras. He served on numerous committees for the university and for various professional organizations. He was the author or co-author of three books and over 100 published articles in professional journals. Dr. Williams retired from NSU in 2000 and was given emeritus status at the spring commencement in 2001.
As a lifelong fisherman, Dr. Williams spent many joyful hours on the waterways of Louisiana and Texas in pursuit of trophy bass. He was active in the local bass fishing club for many years. He enjoyed teaching his daughters to fish and enjoy the outdoors. Later, he would pass along his enthusiasm for fishing to his grandsons and would partner with them to compete in Fisher’s of Men bass tournaments.
As birding enthusiasts, Ken and Vi enjoyed their retirement years traveling the United States and Canada in their RV searching for the next species to add to their “life list.”
A graveside service to honor his life achievements will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at American Cemetery with Buster Jordan officiating. Dr. Dick Stalling, Michael Lutz and Thomas Pipes will share life memories. The family will receive friends from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 at Blanchard-St. Denis Funeral Home.
Those honored to serve as pallbearers include Thomas Pipes, Daniel Pipes, Mitchell Lutz, Grayson Self, Ronnie Self and Ryan McDonald. Honorary pallbearers will be Dr. Dick Stalling, Robert Pipes and Michael Lutz.
The family would like to express their appreciation to Hospice of Natchitoches and Touch of Grace with a special thank you to Clementine Mitchell for her care and wisdom.