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Bruce Fairbanks Williams, 80, died peacefully of natural causes on Monday, March 14, 2011, surrounded by loved ones. An adored father, grandfather and great-grandfather, a loyal friend, and a lifelong servant to his country and to his community, Bruce is survived by his children Michael Williams, Diane Williams Paul, Shelley Williams, Melissa Williams, and Griff Williams, by nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A full military funeral will be held for him at Arlington National Cemetery and a memorial celebration of his life will be held in Coupeville, Washington, on dates to be determined.
Born in New England, Williams graduated from Norwich University and immediately entered the regular Army. During his 29 years of service, he was detailed to the Armor, Infantry, Inspector General, Military Intelligence and General Staff Branches.
As a junior officer he served in tank units and staff assignments in the United States, Austria and Germany; was an Assistant Professor of Military Science at the Pennsylvania State University; and was Aide de Camp to the Commander in Chief, United Nations Command/Commander United States Forces, Korea/Commanding General, 8th U.S. Army, Korea. As a Major, he had Armor troop unit duties in the U.S., including during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Attach assignments to the U.S. Embassies in Ethiopia and Malawi. He then attended the Army Command and Staff College, followed by promotion to Lt. Colonel and a tour in Washington, D.C. with the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In 1969-70, in a combat tour in Vietnam, he commanded the 3/47 Infantry (Riverine) and the 2/22 Infantry (Mechanized) Battalions. He was also Inspector General of two Infantry Divisions in Vietnam.
Following the Vietnam assignment, he was Defense Attache in Nigeria, then attended the Army War College and was promoted to Colonel. His next assignment was to the Office of the Army Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence and then the DOD Weapons Systems Evaluation Group, Office of the Secretary of Defense. In October 1973, he became the DoD Tri-Service Coordinator in Israel responsible for documenting the combat performance of opposing weapons and forces during the Yom Kippur War.
From 1975 to 1980, he was Army Attache and Defense Attache in Israel, serving as principal advisor on political-military affairs to the U.S. mission. Recalled to Washington in 1979 on temporary duty, he was directly involved in the Camp David I negotiations as a special advisor to the Secretary of Defense.
Upon his return to the United States from Israel, Williams was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency as Chief of Western and Third World Division, Estimates Directorate, and then as Commandant (President) of the Defense Intelligence College, now the Joint Military Intelligence College.
His awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star; Legion of Merit (2); Distinguished Flying Cross; Bronze Star (3 and V); Meritorious Service Medal; Air Medal (8 and V); Joint Service Commendation Medal (2); Army Commendation Medal (2 and V); Combat Infantrymanís Badge; Parachutist Badge; the National Intelligence (Director, CIA) Medal of Achievement; W W II Occupation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Vietnam Service Medal; Korean Defense Service Medal; Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Medal with Gold, Silver and Bronze Stars and Palm; Vietnamese Honor Medal; Vietnamese Civic Action Medal; and the Vietnamese Parachutist Bade. While on active duty he was awarded Foreign Area Specialist designations for Africa South of the Sahara and the Middle East. He was granted an Honorary Degree and designated Professor Emeritus of the Defense Intelligence College and Commandant Emeritus of the Joint Military Intelligence.
After leaving the Army, he became vice-president of a defense-related corporation and later associate director of a major professional association in Washington, D.C. Retiring once again, he moved to Coronado, California.
Active in civic affairs, Williams was appointed to the Planning Commission, elected to the Coronado City Council and appointed Mayor Pro Tem. After serving on the Coronado City Council, he moved to Kalispell, Montana, then to Cookeville, Tennessee and lastly to Whidbey Island in Washington State. He has also served on the corporate board of a high-tech perimeter security corporation.
On Whidbey Island, Williams was a devoted member of the Coupeville Lions Club. He served as 3rd Vice President from 2005-07, and received an award for his work as White Canes Chair, a role he filled from 2004-2008. He served on the scholarship committee, worked on the Lions Garage Sale every year, delivered Meals on Wheels, and worked on the Sight and Hearing Van. He also served on the board of the Coupeville Library Project and was a member of the Whidbey Island League of Women Voters.
Donations in lieu of flowers may be sent to the Coupeville Lions Club Scholarship Fund or to the Coupeville Public Library. Condolences may be sent c/o Michael Williams or Diane Paul, 76 Donahey Road, Coupeville, WA 98239.