John William Williams was born on September 12, 1880, in Ocean View, Delaware. He was the son of Reverend W. S. H. and Catharine Williams. He attended preparatory school at Wilmington Conference Academy in Dover, Delaware, before entering Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1901 with the class of 1904.
While at Dickinson Williams was a fraternity brother of Phi Kappa Psi, a member of the Sophomore Band, and the Glee Club. He was in Ravenís Claw, and was editor of the Microcosm. Williams also captained the College football team that beat Penn State and Lafayette in 1903. He graduated from Dickinson in 1904.
In the autumn of 1904, Williams enrolled at the University of Virginia to study law. He only remained in Virginia a short time before returning to Dickinson. Williams took a position as the assistant athletic coach to Forrest Craver and later became the head football coach in 1905 and 1906. While coaching at Dickinson, his record was seven wins, eight losses and two games that resulted in a tie. Williams enjoyed his time at Dickinson but his health deteriorated and he was forced to resign in the spring of 1907. He returned to his home state of Delaware that summer.
J. William Williams remained in Delaware until the autumn of 1907 working at a local business. It became clear that he was suffering from tuberculosis, called at the time, among other things, "White Fever." He decided to move west both for his health and to look for better possibilities. He later settled in Pueblo, Colorado. In Colorado, Williams taught physics and chemistry in the local public school system for a year. He developed pneumonia and died at age twenty seven on May 10, 1908.
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