James Arthur Williams
James Arthur Williams
  • March 29, 1932 - October 31, 2017
  • Annandale, Virginia

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Known affectionately to family as "The Giant Grummer," died peacefully on October 31, 2017 at the young age of 85 after a valiant battle with injuries sustained from a fall.

Though his rank sounds lofty and his height seemed intimidating, he was a wise, kind, loving man who knew the importance of recognizing the "little man.' He tried to instill in people to treat those around them with respect. He made a point to know peoples' names so he could greet them personally, even the maintenance staff at the Pentagon and the produce guy at the grocery store. In his words, "Treat people with value. Always give them opportunities to excel and move up. Give even the worst 2 1/2 strikes before throwing the book at them."

He was an athlete from an early age and excelled at basketball, including being named to the 1950 New Jersey Group II All State team and playing on the West Point team, for which he was the first person to ever be recruited to West Point for basketball. He continued his love of sports with four years on the West Point water polo team. He was involved with his kids' little league teams as a coach and supporter and finished off by supporting his grandkids in their athletic endeavors. Though he moved from NJ early in his life, he remained a staunch New York Yankees fan.

Gen. Williams was born in Patterson, NJ on March 29, 1932 and knew, as early as 5th grade, that he wanted to be a general in the Army. He began is Federal service in 1942 as a volunteer in the Observer Corps of the 2nd Antiaircraft Region, graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1954 and began a long career in Intelligence when he was detailed to the Counter Intelligence Corps in 1957. Gen. Williams was the first West Pointer to move from Lieutenant to Lieutenant General in the field of intelligence. His assignments in counterintelligence and HUMINT included serving as Assistant Military Attache` to Venezuela (1966-1969),commanding the 1st Battalion, 525th MI Group in I Corps in South Vietnam (1969-1970), commanding the 650th Military Intelligence Group at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) , Belgium (1974-1976), serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence, at the U.S. Army-Europe Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany (1980-1981) and culminating his 31 year career as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington, DC from 1981-1985. His many decorations and honors include being a Distinguished Member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame and the Defense Attache` Hall of Fame. The General was also awarded the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal and the German Knight's Commander's Cross of the Order of Merit.

After his retirement from the U.S. Army in 1985, Gen. Williams continued stayed in the intelligence world as senior consultant for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, for DIA and for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and as an advisor for Sandia National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Among other positions he held, Gen. Williams was a member of the Board of Visitors of the Joint Military Intelligence College, was a Senior Fellow at the Joint Forces Staff College, was Chairman of the National Military Intelligence Association (NMIA) and was a consultant for numerous firms engaged in supporting the intelligence community. Gen. Williams was also Co-founder, Board Director and President until his death of InfoAssure, Inc., founded in 1998. Post 9/11, the company focuses on research and development of software technology for protecting data and information sharing in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

James Arthur Williams was predeceased by his parents, Elsie C. and Charles M. Williams and his sister, Judith Ann Mints. He is survived by his beautiful wife of 58 years, Barbara Widnall Williams, his son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Nell Williams, his two wonderful grandchildren, Erin and Owen, and his daughter, Karen C. Williams.

Funeral services will be held on November 11, 2017 at 2 p.m. at St. Matthews United Methodist Church, 8617 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA, with a reception to follow at the church. The internment at Arlington National Cemetery will be at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to the National Military Intelligence Foundation Scholarship Program, PO Box 683, Charlotte Court House, VA 23923 or at https://www.memberplanet.com/campaign/nmif/williams.