SOMERVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Residents in the Morgan County town of Somerville are mourning the loss of a dear friend this evening. Long-time Somerville Mayor J.D. Williams passed away on Christmas Eve. He served the Town of Somerville for almost a half century as a member of the town council, and then as mayor. He leaves behind a loving family and an enormous legacy.
Somerville really wasn’t much of a town when J.D. Williams and his young wife, Sally, moved back to town. That was in 1949 and Miss Sally tells us she had had enough of farm life and wanted to move back to the city. It wasn’t long before J.D. was a member of the town council, and when the mayor’s job came open, he was appointed to that… A post he would hold for 42 years.
“When he was mayor, he got the town’s very first police car that they actually owned. Before that, the officers used their own cars,” said Morgan County Commission Chairman Roy Long, who succeeded Williams as Mayor of Somerville.
He did a lot more. Williams is credited with saving the county’s very first courthouse from the wrecking ball. Somerville was the county seat from 1819 until 1891. It was Williams who convinced the county to deed the building to the town. As a result of his efforts, the old Morgan County Courthouse in Somerville, built in 1837, is the oldest original courthouse in the state.
He also created the towns first library. In fact, a lot of firsts for Somerville took place on J.D.’s watch.
“If you had to just say something about him being mayor, he loved Somerville. He dedicated his life here, being 42 years as mayor, 6 years on the council before that, everything he did focused around Somerville. He’ll be remembered as a great mayor,” Long told WHNT News 19.
Williams will also be remembered as a loving husband and father. He and his wife celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary just last Friday. She, by the way, worked arm and arm with him as the town’s clerk all those years. And there’s something more you should know, Williams never accepted a salary while he served as mayor… for 42 years. What he did for Somerville came from his heart.
On Christmas Day, a small crowd gathered on the lawn of the old courthouse in Somerville for a ringing of the courthouse bell in Williams honor. Town officials say they plan to make the bell ringing an annual tradition.
Funeral services for J.D. Williams will be held tomorrow at the Somerville Church of God. Visitation is at 1P.M., followed by the funeral at 3 P.M.