I mention him often. He is never far from my thoughts and memories, and I can gaze at our times together for hours…on video. There are far too few words available to me to let you totally know Marc Williams.
Marc was one year younger than I. We were raised in different areas of Hall County, although our paths certainly crossed at some point while small children. My family had known his family for many years, having been neighbors and friends in the then-small community of Flowery Branch, Georgia. This seemed to forge a strong connection when we were introduced as adults when my ministry at First Baptist Church of Flowery Branch began. It wasn’t long until I was being questioned about Lilla and Neal…my uncle “Fatback” who was only known to me as Harry Joe and various other family members who frequented the home of my grandparents on Lights Ferry Road. Marc and I became fast friends to say the least.
I have been told that Marc took many of his personality traits from his grandfather, Virgil “Barefoot” Williams, who was considered a legend of legends among the many colorful characters of Flowery Branch. I only knew “Barefoot” by reputation…and he did have one! “Barefoot”, his son, Phillip (Marc’s dad), and Marc were all three known as friendly, fun-loving, outgoing, and engaging characters – the type guys to have never met a stranger. I could write an entire article about Phillip, and may someday. These were personalities that could bring light into a dark room.
While there is no denying Marc’s heritage as a “Williams”, those who knew him well knew that he had also experienced a good dose of his mom’s influence. His mom, Jane, is a gentle-spirit with a well-tempered compassion for people. To me, she is one of the most even-keeled folks I have ever met. She is a good balance to Phillip!
I still count Marc’s older brother, Glenn, as a dear friend. Glenn and Marc were close with Marc having a deep respect for his big brother. When Glenn married Delaine Odum, she was a sister in the truest sense. Alex, better known as “Cricket” to some, was also very dear to Marc, but in a different way. Alex was very similar to Marc in the area of…well, should I say MISCHIEF? Nothing harmful, but neither were going to miss an opportunity to add spice to life with a prank or practical joke. The invention of caller i.d. was a dark day for Marc. The invention of the handheld video camera was a bright day.
He used his engaging personality with great effectiveness and I am thinking of a long line of names who look back and have a great appreciation of Marc even now. When someone needed a friend, he was there. Many times, he was the steady voice in difficult or trying times. Now, to many who knew Marc, the term “steady voice” would seem an odd choice of words. I imagine that it became known early in his childhood that he had a moderate stutter in his voice. This may have been intimidating to some at first, but it didn’t take very long for someone to fully understand what Marc was saying. For someone dealing with stuttering to be known as “a communicator” would be unusual in any case other than Marc. He expressed his feelings quite well and didn’t seem to be or feel limited by this. And to those who knew him well, some would probably speculate that this slight impediment helped him develop a keen sense of humor and to become a practical joker to the ‘nth’ degree. Marc Williams developed several unique voices and mannerisms that could send me over the edge with laughter. He wasn’t shy about this skill either. On occasion, the word ‘aggrevation’ does come to mind. And, will anyone ever forget Rick Johnson from Phoenix?
Marc never married, but I always knew that he’d like to find someone to spend his life with. Sure, he dated. But it just never seemed to materialize in the way he’d have liked for it to. I can’t really say that I ever looked at Marc as lonely, because he found ways to surround himself with people on many levels. He was totally involved in church life at Flowery Branch First Baptist Church. He took advantage of conferences, concerts, retreats, and any number of ways to stay in circulation with people. Even thinking about all of the opportunities he took to be around people I am certain that he would’ve married…and had children. Probably several of them. Marc loved children and they returned that love.
Being a musician, I often wish I could’ve appreciated the times we spent together making music. Whether it was choir, instrumental, or the Blossom Creek Quartet, good times were truly had. Marc didn’t have a spectacular solo voice and neither did he have pinpoint accuracy. But, he had a tremendous basso profundo voice with not even a hint of a faked growl. It was really his voice, and as he matured and worked at it, he became a great quartet bass singer. There are videos today of Marc singing the old quartet standard ‘Hide Me Rock of Ages’ where Marc spotlights one of those characteristic bass echo parts by taking a grand pause before he grinds out the phrase, “Thy face I see……in……glory” and nails a ‘G’ below double-low ‘C” with right-on-the-money accuracy. It is amazing to listen to. And, I don’t think Marc realized just what he’d actually done in a real voice on exact pitch. Sure, his personality came through in his singing and he’d have been looked at as a sort of ‘showman’, but he could sing an awesome bass line.
Marc was a son, brother, and cousin to a loving family. But, to me he was a friend, and a great one at that. But, most of all, he was a child of God. Marc loved God deeply and had a very strong faith. Even in great sickness, he wasn’t prone to complain. Facing a battle with cancer, he was very courageous, but also very calm. Did others notice this too? What a testimony to God’s grace and strength he became to all of us.
Born on May 29, 1965 to a loving family. Marcus Gregory Williams passed peacefully into an eternity with Christ on Wednesday, February 7, 2001 surrounded by his family. And, only those who knew Marc best will be able to appreciate and understand the following statement made by Skip West when he called to share the sad news. The call to notify the church family that Marc had passed away came to First Baptist Church in the middle of choir rehearsal, to which Skip observed that “Marc got to interrupt choir practice one last time. ” He did and he would’ve had it no other way.
I will never forget Marc Williams. Nor would I want to. He shared in many steps along the path.