A big loss

Published 10:41 am Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Western Tidewater area lost a gentleman and a hero last Saturday when retired judge Benjamin Atticus Williams Jr. died at the age of 90.

Besides being a highly decorated World War II veteran, Williams, who was called “Ben” by all who knew him, served as Courtland Postmaster, town judge, county judge and clerk of the Southampton County Circuit Court.

He retired in 1986, but continued to work as a substitute circuit court judge well into his 80s. That was the kind of guy friends said he was — a hard worker.

Williams, too, epitomized the Greatest Generation. He grew up when times were tough, went to college and law school and realized his dream of becoming a judge.

He was a gentle, kind-hearted man, who, despite being a WWII hero, was haunted by the images he saw during that time.

The Courtland native was so sensitive that he could not talk about his experiences, including being wounded three times, for about 60 years. When he did open up to a group at a Southampton County Historical Society event, it was a very emotional time for him.

According to the the Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. veterans of WWII are dying at a rate of more than 1,000 a day.

This latest loss hits close to home and puts a well-known name and face to that statistic.

Williams will truly be missed.