MYRTLE BEACH—James (Jimmy) Williams, 67, passed away on May 6 at Grand Strand Hospital after a brief, but fierce battle with lung cancer.
Jimmy is survived by his loving wife, Kim Perry Williams; sons Jamie and Jon; brother Danny (Sandy) Elrod and sister Karen Blackburn.
Jimmy was born in Tampa, Florida, and was raised in North Augusta by parents, John and Eleanor Williams and grandparents Charles and Elsie Mae Liston.
As a child, Jimmy attended Plum Branch Elementary School and McCormick High School. Jimmy showed horses and his parents had some of the top Tennessee Walkers in the nation. Jimmy’s horse, Tophat, was a National Champion.
When he graduated from high school, Jimmy moved with his parents to Pompano Beach, Florida, and began working as a meter reader for Florida Power and Light, the fourth largest utility company in the nation. During his years there, Jimmy worked his way up to customer service, account management and sales and marketing. Jimmy was the account manager for NASA and Georgia Pacific.
His prowess in this area of his career caused him to be chosen as a key member of the team selected by FPL in their quest for the The Deming Prize — an annual global award that recognizes companies that have successfully implemented Total Quality Management. In 1989, FPL became the first U.S. company to win that award.
FPL did restructuring in the early 90s and wanted to move Jimmy further up the ladder, but Jimmy had had a religious experience during a brief health crisis in which he ask God to show him his path. God showed him a guitar and gave him the song “A Little More Time.”
This song became the anthem for Jimmy’s life and he let it guide him from that point forward. Jimmy declined the career move and began his quest to become a songwriter. God moves in mysterious ways because it was this endeavor that caused him to meet the love of his life, Kim.
Kim had been hired as a demo singer to sing one of Jimmy’s songs, “Cheatin’ Roses.” Eventually, Jimmy decided to produce an album of the same name on Kim. The album received many accolades, radio play, and awards.
With the backing of their great friend, Deborah Gould, the video “Why Are All The Good Ones Gone” was released and played on TNN and CMT. Jimmy managed and guided Kim’s career to three No. 1 national independent singles and concert tours that had her opening for John Anderson, Shenandoah and Radney Foster and performances on “The Ralph Emory Show” alongside The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Together, Jimmy and Kim performed benefit concerts for the Children’s Miracle Network, where they raised thousands of dollars for Shands Children’s Hospital, which led to Kim becoming a regional host of the telethon. One of Jimmy’s proudest moments was when Kim was asked to sing the National Anthem at the Daytona 500.
In 1994, Jimmy’s management skills resulted in Kim being hired as a featured vocalist at The Carolina Opry and they were married that same year in a Christmas wedding. Not long after that, Jimmy too began working at The Opry — first in the call center, then the box office — and soon became the theater manager. Jimmy worked at the Opry for 18 years until 2013, when Jimmy and Kim decided to go all in on a summer concession business selling shave ice in several of the top tourist destinations in Myrtle Beach. This decision afforded them the opportunity to work during the summer and be off the rest of the year, giving them more time to spend with friends and family and to take care of Kim’s dad, Teddy, who remained under their watchful and loving care until he was 98 years old.
Jimmy was a kind and devoted son-in law to Kim’s parents, whom he adored and treated as his own. The feeling was mutual.
One of the most significant events of Jimmy’s life - occurred in his 40s, when after the death of his parents, Jimmy was contacted by his biological mother and told that he had a half brother and sister, Danny and Karen. Jimmy met Danny and his family - wife Sandy, daughters Julie and Angie, and Julie’s children, Taylor and Madi — in 1992. Jimmy counted this event as one of the biggest blessings of his life. The two brothers hit it off as though they had never been separated for over 40 years. The times spent together were some of the best in their lives.
The other facet of Jimmy’s life that continues to be remarkable was his choice of friends. Jimmy’s friends date back to his elementary school days, his time at FPL and the Opry and through all the adventures he and Kim had together. Jimmy referred to it as “The Circle.” If you were in it, you knew it and you were there for life. Many of these strongest angels were with him through and at the very end.
A memorial service for Jimmy will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, May 17 at Pawleys Island Community Church in The Chapel.
Memorial donations may be made to The Gary Sinese Foundation, P. O. Box 368, Woodland Hills, CA 91365 or Pawley’s Island Community Church, 10304 Ocean Highway, Pawleys Island, SC 29585.