Original Tuskegee Airman Dies At 97 At Miami Home

Lt. Colonel Eldridge Franklin Williams
Lt. Colonel Eldridge Franklin Williams

MIAMI – Lt. Colonel Eldridge Franklin Williams, United States Air Force retired, Tuskegee Airman, age 97, passed away peacefully Thursday, July 2, 2015 at his residence. He was surrounded by his companion, Dr. Rosa L. White, his nurse and a close friend.

Colonel Williams was born in Washington County, Texas on November 2, 1917. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Xavier University, New Orleans, Louisiana and pursued his Master’s Degree at University of Michigan. He served in World War II and Korea. He was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in October 28, 1942, on Miami Beach, Florida. While attending Officer Candidate School (OCS) his classmate was the well known movie star, Clark Gable. Colonel Williams was assigned to the Tuskegee Army Air Field, home of the Tuskegee Airmen. He retired from the military service on November 30, 1963 with the rank of Lt. Colonel. This was a man who entered this world under adverse circumstances and encountered numerous others, nevertheless made decisions and choices that resulted in a level of success for himself and a record of providing assistance to others.

His second career was with the Miami Dade County Public School System. He taught for two years at Richmond Heights Middle School and in keeping with his career plan, became an administrator. Positions held, included Coordinator of Federal Programs, Director of Administrative Staffing, Director of School Desegregation -and Executive Director of Personnel. He retired from the school system in 1985. He considered himself blessed to have experienced two wars and two major careers. Lt. Colonel Williams was also an author, as evidenced in the book he wrote “Without Wings I Soared”. He was a member of several organizations and extremely active with the Tuskegee Airmen; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Rotary Club of Miami-Kendall. He was also President of Lake Chara Homeowners Association where he lived for 42 years.

On March 29, 2007, Lt. Col. Williams was presented the Congressional Gold Medal by President Barack Obama.

Lt. Col. Williams is survived by his daughter Kathryn Williams, his companion Dr. Rosa L White; Cousins – Gertha Murphy, Marion Childress-Usher, Barbara Dennis; Nieces – Duandelyn Howard, Patricia Rose and a host of family and friends to carry on his legacy. He was preceded in death by his wife of fifty years, Marvell Farrell, and a sister Madelyn.

Services celebrating the life and legacy of Lt. Col. Williams will begin with the wake on Monday, July 20th, viewing from 6pm-7pm and the program and time of sharing from 7pm-9pm. The funeral will be held on Tuesday, July 21st at 11:00 am. Both services will be held at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church 10701 Southwest 184th Street, Miami, FL 33176. Lt. Col. Williams will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions and donations be sent to the Miami Tuskegee Airmen (MITAI), P.O. Box 172072, Hialeah, Florida 33017. A scholarship will be awarded to students who successfully apply and are selected. The students must meet all criteria including pursuing a career in aviation which was his passion.

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