Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Mar. 5, 2014
WILLIAMS, Donald R., passed away on the
morning of Saturday, March 1. He was 84.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 am on
Saturday, March 8th at Mayes Ward-Dobbins
Funeral Home, Marietta Chapel.
Mr. Williams will be buried at The Arlington National Cemetery in
Arlington, Virginia. Mr. Williams was a retired Air Force Colonel,
husband of 60 years to his beloved wife Helen and proud father of two
sons, David and Greg.
Don was born in Toronto, Canada but moved to Washington, D.C. in
his early years. There he graduated from Anacostia High School and
met his future wife when they were students at the University of
His love of planes - especially fast planes - led him to ROTC and then to
pilot training. Mr. Williams was a distinguished fighter pilot in the early
1960s at Ramstein AFB in West Germany where both of his sons were
born. He went on to fly more than 250 combat missions in the F-4
Phantom in Viet Nam from 1969 to 1970 where he was top gun in his
squadron and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross among many
Don was later the Executive Officer to the top U.S. military officer at
NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium in the 1970s, a NORAD
commander at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana and ended his
Air Force career as Assistant Chief of Staff for Northern NATO
Headquarters in Oslo, Norway.
After retiring from the Air Force, Mr. Williams began a second career at
Lockheed, working on the prototype for what would become the F-22
Stealth Fighter in Burbank, California. He and his wife moved to
Georgia in 1991 where he continued work on the F-22 at Dobbins AFB
through to the fighter jet's first flight and delivery to service.
Upon retirement from Lockheed, Don and Helen made Georgia their
permanent home and continued to live in Acworth until September of
last year when they moved to East Cobb.
Don was avid about physical exercise and could be seen daily running or
walking 2 miles or more on the track and lifting weights at Health Place
in Marietta. He continued this past his 83rd birthday.
In April of 2013 Don was diagnosed with a Progressive Supranuclear
Palsy (PSP), a rare neurological disease categorized as "Parkinson's
Plus". PSP took away his mobility, balance, motor skills and
significantly impaired his ability to perform daily activities. Complications
from the disease led to aspirational pneumonia which, combined with
heart failure led to Don's passing.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in his name to
Cure PSP, a foundation searching for a cure to Don's disease.