The Misericordia University Board of Trustees presented the 2017 Trustee Associates Award to Bill and Sandi Williams in recognition of the couple's philanthropic support of the institution of higher education and for his leadership and commitment while serving as a valued trustee.
The Williams name is synonymous with automobile tires. The designation comes from Bill Williams and his family owning and operating 36 Jack Williams Tire and Auto Service Centers and 12 wholesale centers in four states, making the company one of the largest independent tire dealers in the United States.
The chairman and CEO of the family business also may be recognized just as easily for having the area's longest ongoing relationship with Misericordia University. A native of Dallas Twp., Williams grew up on Lake Street, in a stone Tudor-style home, about a half mile from the sprawling campus. During the week, he walked to the former Dallas High School, utilizing campus as a short cut.
"We used to walk back and forth through the school (Misericordia) every day,'' said Williams, a member of Dallas High School's first graduating class. "When I started walking through there, it was an all-girls school. My parents lived in that house forever. Going back and forth, I had a bird's-eye view as the University grew.
"Walking through Misericordia and going to school, you could see the alumni – everybody – have a passion for it, and rightfully so.''
Many years later, Williams accepted an invitation from friends and business associates to join the Misericordia University Board of Trustees. His nine-year term from 2007 to 2016 also coincided with one of the institution's most prosperous eras of growth.
Bill Williams and his wife of nearly 50 years, Sandi, have long been ardent contributors to Misericordia's mission of fostering intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, and respect for people in an environment where all are welcome. Since 1988, they have provided generous support for numerous capital projects, athletic programs and facilities, the Ruth Matthews Bourger Women with Children Program, and more.
Williams retired from the Board of Trustees in 2016 because he was splitting time between his family homestead in Larksville, and seasonal destinations in Florida and New Jersey. The distance between his vacation homes and campus limited his availability to attend important board meetings.
"I looked forward to going to the board meetings,'' he said, acknowledging that he misses the camaraderie he shared with fellow trustees. "It was a bunch of great people. You could not afford them all if you brought them into your company. They are all successful, regular people. It was like a mission: When the board decided they wanted to get something done, they did.
"When I am involved in something, I want to be involved. It did not feel right (missing meetings),'' he added. "I am still friends with them (board members). Of all the different boards I served on, Misericordia board members are by far the hardest working.''
The Misericordia University Board of Trustees proudly honored the philanthropy and leadership of Bill and Sandi Williams by presenting them the 2017 Trustee Associates Award at the annual Trustee Associates Gala in October.
The University presents the annual award to friends who have demonstrated outstanding dedication, service and generosity in support of Misericordia University. "I am very appreciative of the leadership and insights that Bill shared with us during his time on the Board of Trustees,'' Misericordia University President Thomas J. Botzman, Ph.D. said. "His financial gifts to the University also are indicative of the kind of trustees that make a lasting impact on an organization and the students we serve. We are delighted that he is such a stalwart supporter of our mission.''
In 1929, Jack Williams, Sr., opened a small tire shop in Kingston. The original store had one service bay, two islands for gasoline service, and a small retread shop. Overall, the business specialized in mounting new tires and same-day service for tire recapping. Jack Williams Tire and Auto Service Centers soon expanded into the tire warehousing and wholesale business in the 1960s under Williams' leadership. In the 1970s and 1980s, the company added dozens of retail outlets and expanded wholesale services. In 1988, the company opened a larger warehouse and its corporate headquarters in Moosic. Modern Tire Dealer magazine recognized the company in 2006 by naming it the Tire Dealer of the Year.
Today, Jack Williams Tire and Auto Service Centers remains a family-owned and operated business. The Williams' children continue with the tradition of operating the business the "Williams Way'' – by being committed to going above and beyond their customers' expectations and providing the greatest value possible. Scott Williams is president, while his siblings, Jason and Tracey, are executive vice presidents.
The Williams family also shares their talent and treasure throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania. They established the Bill and Sandi Williams Family Fund of the Luzerne Foundation in support of various charities in the region, and they serve on numerous civic boards.
"Being that familiar with Misericordia made a big difference. So many of my friends and business associates were involved with Misericordia, not only as trustees but supporters as well,'' he said, mentioning long-time trustees, John C. Metz, Paul Chip Siegel, and Rusty and Hal Flack. "Just to see the support Misericordia received from them, I felt there had to be something there. The people on the board, the faculty and alumni have such a passion for Misericordia. It is contagious.''
The Misericordia University Board of Trustees presented the 2017 Trustee Associates Award to Bill and Sandi Williams at the annual Trustee Associates Gala. Mr. and Mrs. Williams, center, pose for a picture with their family.