Dr. Edward Sutherlin Williams, 85, of Chapel Hill, died Saturday, November 8, in Durham, of complications of Parkinson’s Disease. At his bedside were his beloved wife and children.
Dr. Williams was born in Greenville, NC, December 20, 1928, and reared by his mother, Novella Moye Williams among their extended family. In the family home were his maternal grandmother, Mrs. Jesse Rountree Moye, his aunts, Miss Jesse Rountree Moye and Mrs. Emily Moye Hadley, and her daughter, Martha Hadley Calloway, whom he considered a sister. His uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Sidney Moye and their sons, Joseph Sidney Moye, Jr and William Transou Moye also gave him lifelong support.
He graduated from Greenville High School in 1946, where he distinguished himself in track, basketball and band and played percussion with the NC Symphony. After attending The Citadel for two years, he earned his BA degree in chemistry in 1950 at UNC. He belonged to Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
When he was a senior, a female student seated behind him in music class helped him with his jacket. That Sunday, he tapped her shoulder after Sunday worship at University United Methodist Church and asked her for a date. Thus was launched the enduring love affair with his future wife, Princess Stellings of Wilmington, NC. They were married July 19, 1952.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
In 1954, he was in the first class granted MD degrees from the School of Medicine at UNC. Postgraduate medical training consisted of internship at Cincinnati General Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio and Internal Medicine residency and fellowship in Cardiology at North Carolina Memorial Hospital at UNC. In 1959, he received the Henry C. Fordham Award, recognizing extraordinary “patience, compassion and humility” in a house officer.
After internship, he spent two years as a general medical officer at Perrin Air Force Base in Texas. ”One of those years,” he wrote with typical humor in a chronicle of his life, “I practiced Obstetrics, and delivered 220 babies. Decided then not to specialize in that field.”
After three years of solo practice in Hartsville, SC, he joined three colleagues to found the still-extant Durham Internal Medicine Associates, where he practiced until retiring in 1990.
He served as Chief of Medical Service at Watts Hospital from 1970 – 1975. He was instrumental, along with a colleague at Duke, in the 1971 creation of the Duke-Watts Family Medicine Residency Program. These residents honored him in 1973 with the Family Medicine Teaching Award.
Throughout his career, he was a devoted, concerned caregiver to his patients. Long after other physicians gave up the making of house calls, he felt called to continue them. He loved teaching, mentoring medical students, residents and nurses in a style of care which was scouringly thorough yet sought always to offer compassion. He held positions as Clinical Associate Instructor at UNC and Clinical Assistant Professor at Duke and was a member of the Durham-Orange County Medical Association, NC Medical Society, NC Society of Internal Medicine, American Medical Association and American College of Physicians.
He and Princess actively participated in UNC alumnae events; he chaired the 30th Class of 1950 reunion and helped organize the 50-year anniversary of the medical school’s first MD class.
His spirit of service was widely present in the church and community. A member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Durham, he served on its Board of Stewards from 1986 – 1993 and was chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Methodist Retirement Homes of the NC Conference. During 30 years of membership, he was President of the Rotary Club of Durham in1992-1993, a Paul Harris Fellow and Rotary International Benefactor.
Above all, he and Princess valued spending time with their family. He gave them a deep enjoyment of the outdoors. We remember him cutting across the wake on a slalom waterski, with his white hair slicked back and a huge grin on his face. He loved sailing, fishing, gardening and tennis, and had discerning taste in fireworks and silly hats. Dancing with Princess or singing popular songs with her made him beam with happiness, decade after decade. The illness and distress he saw at work never diminished his tremendous joy in life, nor his ability to laugh so hard that he would wheeze. He had the gift of true kindness, which he gave in turn to everyone in his path.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Princess; three children: Dr. Princess Anne Williams, of Pittsburgh, PA, Martha Moye Williams of Chapel Hill and Edward Sutherlin Williams III of Fredericksburg, VA; five grandchildren: Blanche Bailey Yousem, Emilie Darden Yousem and Jacob Williams Yousem, all of Pittsburgh, and Edward Sutherlin Williams IV and Thomas Henry Williams of Culpeper, VA. The family wishes to recognize the tender nursing care of Sonia Smith, Jessica Carruthers, Magaline Pettiford and Tanya Law at the end of Dr. Williams’ life.
Services will be held at 2 pm Friday, November 14, in the chapel of University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, followed by visitation with the family in the Fellowship Hall. Graveside services will be conducted by Dr. Homer Morris of Jarvis United Methodist Church at 11 am Saturday, November 15, at the Moye family plot at Cherry Hill Cemetery in Greenville, NC.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to University United Methodist Church, 150 East Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC, 27514 or to National Parkinson’s Foundation Center of Excellence at UNC, attention to Jessica Katz, Dept. of Neurology, 2185T Physicians Office Building, 170 Manning Drive, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7025.