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Remembering The King of The James: David Williams

Earlier this week, hundreds of friends and family members came together to remember the high-spirited David Wayne Williams, a Virginia native and longtime powerboat enthusiast who passed away almost a week earlier on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at the age of 63. The celebration of life, which included a few of Williams’ favorite boats on display, took place Monday evening at the Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service in Richmond, Va.

With several of his boats on display, the memorial service for Virginia’s David Williams at Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service in Richmond was well-attended. Photo courtesy John Hope

It had been a week since Williams—one of the nicest human beings on the planet, according to everyone who has met him—passed away, and despite the lingering shock and sadness, the celebration remained upbeat just as he would have wanted.

“The service was perfect—everything was perfect,” said Williams’ daughter, Spring Lundsford, a devoted performance boater thanks for her father. “Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate my dad, and thanks to John Hope for the pictures—they’re perfect.”

Williams, who was born in Richmond to the late Jimmy Liston Williams and Mabel Marie Young, is survived by the love of his life and wife of 44 years, Joey Williams; daughter, Spring Lunsford (Dino); son, DJ Williams (Brittany); son in law, TJ Bailey; three grandchildren, Tyler, Charlotte and Tucker; two fur babies, Kevan and Karen; one grand fur baby, Moose; two sisters, Janet Pitts (Mark), Vicky Carlisle (Mike); and two brothers, Gary Williams (Marie), Scott Williams (Lisa).

“What can I say? The world got a little darker when we lost David Williams, a friend, father, husband, and pawpaw,” said North Carolina boater TJ Bailey, who became part of the Williams family when he married Spring and remained a part of it after they separated. “We lost one of the greatest human beings and honestly the kindest man I’ve ever known. My heart breaks for Joey, DJ, and Spring, not to mention the grandkids—David was Tyler’s world.

“If you’re a performance boater and have ever heard of the James River, I can almost guarantee you’ve heard of David; you might even have been lucky enough to have met him,” he continued in his Facebook post about Williams, whom he said was referred to by many as the King of the James. “I’ve never met a man who knew so much, helped so many, and yet remained the humblest person imaginable. If he knew you needed help you didn’t even have to ask, he just stepped in.”

Although David Williams (right) was TJ Bailey’s ex-father-in-law, they remained great friends. Photo courtesy TJ Bailey

Even though his marriage with Spring didn’t work out, Bailey said he talked to Williams at least once a week.

“That man would try anything once and if it was boat related probably twice,” Bailey added. “I think the most fun we ever had was the year he brought the Stingray with the 510&Mega blower down to the (Lake Norman Fun Run). Man we ran the shit out of that boat and got more than a few people’s attention!

“Nothing was off limits with David; we talked about life, our fathers and what we wanted next,” he continued. “We talked about the good times and the bad, and then we’d talk about boats some more. It’s rare to have someone in your life who truly cares and doesn’t want anything in return. I’m going to miss my father in law…I’m going to miss my friend.”

Fellow Virginia boater Brian Tillett, who owns an Active Thunder V-bottom, said Williams was taken “way too early.”

“My heart breaks for Joey, Spring and (DJ) David Williams; as well as Brittany, Dino, the grandkids, and the entire Williams family and friend circle,” Tillett posted on Facebook. “David was a great guy and loved among the Richmond boating community. The ripples of this loss will be felt by many for quite a long time.”

Mike Goode, another powerboat enthusiast who knew Williams well, said he was at a loss for words in his post.

“David all I can tell you is thank you,” Goode stated. “Thank you for showing me so much about boats. Thank you for turning a quick trip to the house or marina into a long trip. Thank you for teaching me my found passion for powerboats. And thank you for taking me in as family.”

May the King of the James rest in peace.

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