The bridge spanning Big Wills Creek on the Black Creek Parkway extension now has an appropriate name.
Last Tuesday (Feb. 28), local officials and dignitaries christened the above structure “Billy Ray “Bull Dog” Williams Bridge.
A longtime District 6 Representative for the Etowah County Commission, Williams passed away on Dec. 19, 2002. His widow Fay Bradford Williams and their children and grandchildren were on hand for the dedication.
Williams was the District 6 Commissioner from January of 1986 through December of 2002. He served as District Commissioner for four consecutive terms and ran unopposed for a fifth term before passing away. In 2001 Williams was the first Etowah County Commissioner to be elected president of the Association of Alabama County Commissions.
“I know if Billy Ray was alive, he’d say that he didn’t deserve this honor and would have wanted to give it to somebody else,” said Faye Bradford Williams. “Billy Ray loved God and his family and his church, but he also loved Etowah County. Not only was the land around where we’re standing right now Billy Ray’s old stomping ground, but his very first political sign was [placed] right down the road, so this is a great place to honor him.
“Billy Ray worked very hard to get the roads fixed in his district, and I want to thank Tim Choate for continuing to keep those roads fixed. People used to tell me that the roads in our district looked as good as downtown Gadsden, and that’s just fine!”
Rainbow City Mayor Terry John Calhoun read an official proclamation designating February 28, 2012 as Billy Ray Williams Day in the municipality.
Etowah County Commission Chairman and District 4 Representative Jeff Overstreet noted that Commission 6 representative Tim Choate was unable to attend the ceremony due to personal reason. Overstreet pointed out that Choate was instrumental in planning the dedication ceremony.
“Today we celebrate the life of Billy Ray “Bull Dog” Williams and proudly honor a great man,” said Overstreet from prepared remarks. “He was truly a man of integrity and served this county well. When you met Billy Ray, you met a person that you felt you knew your entire life.
“He was a wonderful listener and wanted to solve everyone’s problems. He was never boastful or conceited and never wanted notoriety for his tireless work for the people of Etowah County. Billy Ray always put himself last and others first. Everyone in this community loved and admired Billy Ray Williams.”
A native of South Gadsden, Williams excelled in football while attending Etowah High School. He also lettered in basketball and baseball. Williams was an All-County and All-State performer for the Blue Devil football team. A varsity starter since his 8th grade year, Williams changed uniforms at halftime of the football games in order to perform with the EHS band. He was received the school’s Most Outstanding Athlete award as a senior.
After graduation, Williams attended the University of Louisville on a football scholarship. He later attended Hinds Junior College in Mississippi as a music major and eventually graduated from Louisiana State University’s school of banking.
As a member of White Springs Baptist Church in Rainbow City, Williams served as a deacon, choir member, Sunday School teacher and treasurer.
Williams’ love of singing led him to perform with the Gadsden Harmoneers, the Gadsden Gospelaires, the New Heart Trio and the Gadsden Singing Ambassadors.
Williams also coached football for the Southside High School athletic program and served as a radio announcer for the Panther varsity football team.
“Billy Ray did not have to tell you he was a Christian – he just lived it every day of his life,” Overstreet added. “He will always be remembered throughout the county and the state for his outstanding leadership. Today is just a great day to honor a great man.”