Dr. Claude R. Williams, Sr., 93, Orthodontist, Navy Captain, and Civil Rights Champion was born in Marshall, Texas in February 1929 and died in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Williams was educated in the segregated schools of Marshall, Texas where he graduated from H.B. Pemberton High School. He attended Wiley College where he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity but transferred to and graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. with a bachelor's degree in Zoology, a Doctorate in Dental Surgery, and a Certificate in Orthodontics. Upon graduation, Dr. Williams joined the United States Naval Reserve and served on active duty in Bainbridge, Maryland. At the conclusion of his active-duty military career, Dr. Williams returned to Texas to open a dental practice in Marshall during the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1968, when white orthodontists in Texas refused to treat his daughter, Dr. Williams packed up his family from Marshall and moved to Washington, D.C. to enroll in the Howard University School of Dentistry Orthodontics Program. Dr. Williams returned to Texas after graduating from Orthodontics School where he opened his Orthodontics practice first on Forest Avenue (now MLK Boulevard) and later on Kiest Boulevard. For over 40 years, patients of all races could receive quality, unbiased orthodontic care. He was an Associate Professor of Orthodontics at Baylor College of Dentistry where he was the first Black faculty member. In 1989, Dr. Williams received the Tom M. Mathews Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Baylor Orthodontics Department, and he was made an honorary member of the Baylor Orthodontics Alumni Association. Dr. Williams also served as Director of Minority Affairs until his retirement in 2013.
Dr. Williams continued his military service in the United States Naval Reserve where he became the First African American Dental Commanding Officer and the First African American Navy Dentist to achieve the rank of 0-6 (Captain).
Dr. Williams still found time to be an active member of his community. He was a member of Hamilton Park United Methodist Church, a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the NAACP, National Association of Naval Officers, and a member of many professional organizations including the MC Cooper Dental Society, Dallas County Dental Society, National Dental Association, and American Association of Orthodontists.
He has been honored for being an industry trailblazer for outstanding service to local and national communities, and he recently received his 75-year pin from Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Those left to cherish lasting memories include his son, Dr. Claude R. Williams, Jr.; twin daughters, Judge Staci Williams (Jerry Dawson) and Ms. Traci Williams; former spouse and mother of his children, Mrs. Helen Williams; and a host of relatives, golfing buddies, mentees, and friends.
Gratitude is extended to the doctors and staff of UT Southwestern and Clements Hospital.
Donations may be made to The Dr. Claude R. Williams, Sr. Endowed Scholarship at Texas A&M University by following the instructions below. A Williams Scholar will have excelled academically and demonstrated a significant commitment to community service in a socio-economically deprived area and will have a financially and/or educationally disadvantaged background.
The program for Dr. Claude R. Williams, Sr. can be viewed by clicking the link below:
Dr. Claude R. Williams Scholarship
Go to www.txamfoundation.com/give.aspx
Where it says “Select a Unit or College”, select: An Unlisted Account
Where it says “Giving Account Name or Number”, type: Dr. Claude R. Williams Scholarship – 23-076011
Follow the additional instructions regarding donation, contact, and payment information
Make check payable to: Texas A&M Foundation
In memo/notes section, write: Dr. Williams Scholarship -23-076011
Mail check to: Texas A&M Foundation, 401 George Bush Drive, College Station, TX 77840