Funeral services for longtime Bibb County educator Robert J. Williams will be held Friday.
Williams, the first principal of Central High School and a former acting superintendent of the school system, died Thursday. He was 88.
His funeral will be held at 11:15 a.m. Friday at Greater Allen Chapel AME Church, located at 269 Pursley St. Visitation will be Thursday from 6-7 p.m. in the chapel of Hutchings Funeral Home.
Williams grew up in Macon. He lived in the Pleasant Hill community and was a former president of the Pleasant Hill Neighborhood Association, helping lead the drive for historic district status for the neighborhood.
He graduated from the private Ballard School in 1942. The school later evolved into a public school, first as Ballard High, then as Ballard-Hudson High for black students.
In 1948, after a stint in the Army, Williams attended Morehouse College, where one of his classmates was Martin Luther King Jr.
He graduated with a business administration degree and hoped to get a job where he could use his background in accounting and economics. But such opportunities were limited at the time, he noted in a 1988 interview in The Telegraph.
His mother, a Bibb County schoolteacher, encouraged him to consider a teaching career, and he did.
He was 22 years old in 1948 when he took his first job in the system, teaching math and business education at Ballard School.
He held a number of jobs over the years, including counselor at Ballard-Hudson High and principal at Ballard-Hudson Junior High. Along the way, he earned a doctorate in education administration.
In 1969, after a federal court ordered Bibb County to integrate its schools, Williams served on the committee that developed a plan to merge all-black high schools and all-white high schools. The result was the creation, in 1970, of Central, Northeast and Southwest high schools. Williams took charge at Central.
He worked there until 1973, when he became deputy school superintendent. He was a finalist twice when the school system was considering applicants for the superintendents job. He retired in 1988 after a 40-year career in public education.