Lt. Colonel Eldridge Franklin Williams, one of the Original Tuskegee Airman and a longtime Miami resident, passed away at age 97 earlier this month.
Williams died July 2 surrounded by companion, nurse and close friend, Dr. Rosa L. White.
Born November 2, 1917 in Washington County, Texas, Williams lived a full life. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana, and he later went on to purse his Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan.
Williams served in World War II and Korea. He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in October 1942 in Miami Beach before joining the Tuskegee Airmen, the celebrated and honored all-African-American squadron who played a role in integrating the U.S. military.
After retiring from military service in 1963, his second career was with the Miami-Dade County Public School System. He taught for two years at Richmond Heights Middle School and went on to become an administrator. Williams held the positions of Coordinator of Federal Programs, Director of Administrative Staffing, Director of School Desegregation, and Executive Director of Personnel. He retired from the school system in 1985.
On March 29, 2007, Lt. Col. Williams was presented the Congressional Gold Medal by President Barack Obama.
Williams also wrote "Without Wings I Soared," a book describing his life story. He was a member and extremely active with the Tuskegee Airmen, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Rotary Club of Miami-Kendall. He was also President of Lake Chara Homeowners Association where he lived for 42 years.
Services celebrating the life and legacy of Lt. Col. Williams will begin with the wake on Monday, July 20th, viewing from 6 p.m to 7 p.m. and the program and time of sharing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The funeral will be held on Tuesday, July 21st at 11:00 a.m. Both services will be held at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church 10701 Southwest 184th Street in Miami.
Williams will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia at a later date.
Memorial contributions and donations can be sent to the Miami Tuskegee Airmen (MITAI), P.O. Box 172072, Hialeah, Florida 33017. A scholarship will be awarded to students who successfully apply and are selected.