Steve Williams III (1936-2020)

Birmingham Historical Society Past President, Trustee, and Past President of Finance and Investment Committees

Steve Williams was a wonderful friend to Birmingham Historical Society and a contributing member prior to his death this month. Most recently he lent a photograph from his archive in Eufala for publication in our recent Shades Creek book. Over a period of many years he served as a Trustee, President, and Chairman of both the Finance and Investment Committees. 

As President in 1980, he led the Society’s Trustees though a series of long-range planning sessions conducted by the heads of both the American Association of State and Local History and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. These sessions, held at Protective’s Headquarters, set the agenda of our institution for subsequent decades. The former resolved that the Society would not collect records, documents, and artifacts; the later that it would direct research, publishing, and educational efforts toward the preservation of historic landmarks and districts. The Society’s Finance Committee met in his offices at Protective. Here also, working with Steve, Trustees first formulated endowment policies, crafting guidelines for investment policy. This was cutting edge planning for non-profits in the mid1980s.

Steve also supported the younger trustees when we decided to renovate a historic house and move our offices to the Sloss Furnaces. One day he took me out to lunch and shopping … at the Protective Corporation surplus furniture warehouse. He told me I could have anything I wanted. I picked the burnt-orange covered conference chairs and table that we long enjoyed, quite a step up from our army-surplus office desks and chairs. Steve always encouraged us to write more about people. I think of him fondly when we do and it is deeply rewarding to recall and write about our association with him.

– Marjorie White, BHS Director