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Bonesville Magazine, Vol. V, Teaser No. 2
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
By Ron Cherubini
Staff Feature Writer


Passionate Pirate gives his all to pursue a vision

Big-time booster Walter Williams has been a fixture in the fight for respect


Holtz recruiting strategy nets class of distinction
Passionate Pirate gives his all to pursue a vision
Pirate Club's new boss brings strong track record

'The Year of the Pirate'

If you're not a Pirate Club member, you may get your copy of Bonesville Magazine by placing your secure order online now, or you can pick up the 112-page volume starting next week at select locations. (*Note: Pirate Club members who had renewed as of July will receive Bonesville Magazine, Volume V, as well as upcoming 2006-07 issues of The Pirates' Chest by mail as a membership benefit. The Pirates' Chest, an exclusive perk for Pirate Club members, will not be available for online ordering or at retail locations.)

Bonesville Magazine

112 pages of features, pictures and information...
  • Letter from Pirate Club Executive Director Mark Wharton
  • Happy Anniversary to Us! A Look at Our Past, Present & Future
  • Hall of Fame Moment Bigger than Sports
  • No Time Like the Present: Pirate Coaches Lining Up Talent Against Needs for 2007
  • James Pinkney: Poised to Take his Place Among the Elite Pirate Quarterbacks
  • ECU PREVIEW: Compared to 2005's Climb, the Pirates Face a Mountainous Challenge in '06
  • Q & A with Coach Skip Holtz: Pirates Coach Cautiously Optimistic
  • C-USA PREVIEW: Newcomers Breed Parity In the Now Truly Wide-Open Conference USA
  • Pirate Recruiting: Holtz & Crew Working Wizardry Inside and Out
  • Visit with the Voice, Jeff Charles
  • The New Pirates 2006
  • The Rookie Books
  • Tracking the Classes: Recruits of 2002-2005
  • Holtz Embedding Himself into the Community: Coach's Passions Run Deep Off the Turf of Dowdy-Ficklen
  • Wharton Brings Business-like Approach to Pirate Club
  • Pirate Time Machine: Walter Williams: A Witness to It All
  • LeClair Leaves Sweeping Legacy
  • The 1966 Team: Champions Ushered in a New Football Era
  • Pirate Club Events and Information

By Ron Cherubini
Editor, Bonesville Magazine
All rights reserved.

For Walter Williams, founder and president of Trade Oil Company, it all boils down to passion. Having attended East Carolina Teachers College in the late ‘40's and early ‘50's, his first impressions of East Carolina football were that it was pretty darn bad.

But he also witnessed the arrival of Dr. Leo Jenkins and his passion to make East Carolina something other than an also-ran.

It was that passion that Williams adopted and has been living ever since. Whenever the Pirates have needed him, he has come through for them. Whether it be with the funds for Williams Arena, or with time and money to co-chair the Clark-LeClair Stadium project.

Williams has sat on the ECU Board of Trustees and has been a Pirate Rep for the Pirate Club. And he has done much more in his more than four decades around the program.

Unassuming and reluctant to stand in the glow of the spotlight, Williams and his family have given because Greenville, the university and the surrounding towns have given so much to his family through dedication to his Trade Oil operations all over eastern North Carolina.

Williams knows all too well, that his story could have been a very different one. Starting a business in your 50's is a different challenge with greater risks than starting one in your 20's. That is exactly what Williams did, and in doing so, in effect, he banked on his neighbors, his fellow Greenville natives, to choose him over the myriad of national oil companies.

In 1993, when he and his wife Marie called the Pirate Club to offer up the first-ever million dollar gift on behalf of ECU athletics, it was done so not because he was rolling in dough — because at that time they gave, Walter and Marie weren’t in a particularly strong position financially — but because they knew East Carolina was at a critical juncture, staring at a real possibility that it would head to 1-AA status.

Williams did not, could not, let that happen, and he ponied up the money.

Since that crossroads in the journeys of both Williams and his alma mater, he has given in big ways to the ECU Educational Foundation, whether the measurement is in terms of finances or in man hours.

Though he admits that he has mellowed a bit when watching his Pirates, Williams' passion slips out when the conversation turns to conference affiliation.

“I would love to see us get in a (different) conference,” Williams said. “I am not knocking Conference USA, but the problem with it is … and if we had tons of money it wouldn’t make a difference ... but it costs an awful lot of money to be involved in a program in Conference USA. There are so many miles difference between us on one end of the spectrum and the schools in Texas on the other end.

“Our hopes — to be honest with you — what would make sense for us would be tied into the ACC, but that will never happen. Somebody further west will have to go brain dead before that would happen. But that made logical sense as far as travel.

"If we had been given an opportunity, our fan base and their fan bases, we could have traveled to five, six, possibly seven schools by bus and they could have done the same thing with us.

"If the day of TV fades away — and it won’t — but if it did, I think that it might come home to haunt a lot of us. Why are we traveling to Florida when we could be playing close by home and transportation would not be a killer? But, TV runs the show right now and my personal thought process would be the Big East is the next best option.

"Of course, some people say I am crazy because I would like to say the Southeastern Conference. I know that sounds crazy, but the SEC could have a representative in North Carolina which they don’t have now. Plus we are an SEC-like football town. That’s where I would like to see us and where I believe we belong.”

The ECU Hall of Famer and tireless supporter of ECU sports and academics took a spin in the Pirate Time Machine in the 2006 preseason football edition of Bonesville Magazine. In the feature, Williams talks candidly about his life as a Pirate, his vision for ECU and what motivates him.

Send an e-mail message to Ron Cherubini.

Click here to dig into Ron Cherubini's Bonesville archives.

02/23/2007 02:07:04 PM

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