Wilburn Lee “Bill” Williams, 78, of Heber Springs, Arkansas, entered his Heavenly home to sit at the feet of Jesus on Thursday, May 21st, 2020, in the presence of his loving family at the UT Southwestern Clements Hospital in Dallas, Texas.
Bill was born to Jesse Elmer and Ada Mae Jenkins Williams on July 4, 1941, in Jacksonville, Arkansas. At Jacksonville High School, Bill ran track and played football, basketball, and baseball. During his senior year, he met his high school sweetheart Oneta Goodwin, who went on to become his wife of 58 years. After graduation in 1959, Bill attended Arkansas State Teachers College on a football scholarship, and he and Oneta married on June 15th, 1962. They had two daughters, Kim and Karla.
Bill began his career at Horner Box Factory in Little Rock, where he worked for 10 years. He also spent five years as a yard supervisor at ARKMO Lumber and Supply Company before entering the ministry full time. As he prepared for a lifetime of ministry work, Bill attended Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, graduating in December of 1976. In his decades in the ministry, he served as a song director, youth minister, custodian, deacon, Sunday School teacher, pastor, evangelist, and missionary. He was the first pastor of Military Road Baptist Mission, a church plant of Highway Baptist Church in Jacksonville. He also pastored Quitman Baptist Church and later served as a full-time evangelist with David Miller and Line Upon Line Ministries. He began working for International Church Planters, an organization that disciples church leaders in nations around the world in 1999, and became president of the organization in 2003. He led ICP until his retirement in 2019 and remained actively involved in International Church Planters’ ministry. He was also a faithful member of Tumbling Shoals Baptist Church.
Bill was an avid sports lover and coached both of his daughters in softball. He enjoyed playing church league basketball and softball and loved watching sports, cheering on his daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and many friends during all of their activities. He was a passionate Razorback fan who loved anything Razorback related and was seldom seen without Razorback apparel. A shared love of sports created many happy memories for Bill’s family and friends. He also loved to deer hunt and spend time outdoors, enjoying time with friends and soaking up God’s creation. He enjoyed watching sunsets and admired all aspects of nature’s beauty.
Bill was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, and friend, who made sure his friends and family knew how much he loved them. He was a people person with a magnetic personality, and people were drawn to his kindness, quick wit, and compassion. He was deeply invested in the lives of others and always had a listening ear. Both friends and family as well as new acquaintances were quick to share their problems with Bill, because they could see his love for others and his love for the Lord.
Bill’s life was defined by his passion for God and his devotion to his church. He saw every interaction as an opportunity to share God’s love, spreading the Gospel not only through the pulpit but also through his daily encounters. From close friends and family to people he happened to meet in passing, Bill was quick to pray with and for others and to offer spiritual encouragement, pointing everyone he met to Jesus. Bill was passionate about teaching others how to share God’s word and was drawn to International Church Planters because of its mission to train leaders to share the Gospel meaningfully in their own cultures. He continued to share the Gospel and witness to others even during his time in the hospital and throughout his last days.
Bill is preceded in death by his parents, grandparents, sister Donna Atkinson, and brother Jim Williams, as well as aunts and uncles. He is survived by his wife, Oneta Goodwin Williams, two daughters, Kim Williams of Dallas, Texas, and Karla (Chris) Ault of Casa, Arkansas, three grandchildren, Keith Williams, Jessica (Bryan) Osborne, and Mallorie Ault, two great-grandchildren, Kyrie and Elijah Osborne, a brother, E.C. Williams (Lynn), and many nieces, nephews, and friends.
Funeral service will be 10:30 a.m. Monday June 1, 2020, at Mountain Top Cowboy Church in Heber Springs, visitation will be 9:30-10:30. Graveside service at 3:00 p.m. at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum in Jacksonville, Arkansas.
Bill’s family would like to express their deepest gratitude to the staff of U.T. Southwestern Clements Hospital for the excellent care and kindness they provided to him throughout his transplant and treatment.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to International Church Planters, Tumbling Shoals Baptist Church Missions Scholarship Fund, or Gideons International.
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