Portrait of a Coal Miner

Henry Williams located this marvelous portrait of a coal miner painted by Norman Rockwell for a World War II poster for the Museum's collection.

IN MEMORIAM – Henry H. Williams, Jr. 1923-2010

It takes a community and a few visionary leaders to grow an art museum.

Great art museums grow from visionary founders. Norman Rockwell Museum is blessed to have had many, including Norman Rockwell himself, who established his Art Collection Trust and placed it in the custody of the Museum. Last year, during the Museum’s 40th anniversary celebrations we honored three inspiring leaders who shaped the future of the Museum, Norma Ogden, Jane Fitzpatrick and Lila Berle.

Today I am moved to remember Henry H. Williams, Jr., our long time friend, trustee, past treasurer, chief financial officer and most recently, trustee emeritus, who passed away on February 6th at home with his family after a recent illness at the age of 86.

Henry Williams was one of Norman Rockwell Museum’s most influential trustees and leaders. As Norman Rockwell’s personal trust officer, he worked with Norman Rockwell to help guide his estate and trust plans, and was influential in inspiring the Norman Rockwell Art Collection Trust, of which Norman Rockwell Museum is the custodian. Henry joined the Board of Trustees in 1973 and continued to serve as a trustee and long time treasurer until 1990, when our new building was under construction and he joined the staff as our first chief financial officer. Henry led the Berkshire County phase of the Museum’s building campaign and oversaw the construction budget of the Museum and later helped us grow into our larger quarters. He was tireless in his work to ensure the growth and success of the Museum.

Henry retired from the staff and rejoined the board some years after the Museum was up and running in its new home. In 1997 he was appointed a trustee emeritus. Henry was honored for his dedication and devotion to the Museum with the naming of a bench under the flag pole on the green in 2003.

Those who knew Henry will remember his wonderful stories, his booming ‘How do?” and the great affection he held for Norman Rockwell Museum. He was a formidable and nurturing influence in my life, and in fact, is responsible for my finding employment at the Norman Rockwell Museum during college. He was a great teacher, mentor and friend. I realize that others of you never had the pleasure to meet and know Henry and all he did for the Museum – his dedication to the Museum was unswerving.

Today, Henry’s eldest son, Peter, serves on the board of the Museum as our Clerk. Henry’s beloved wife of more than 50 years, Joan Taylor, was the Museum’s early longtime bookkeeper before the days of computers and her beautifully executed ledgers are in the Museum archive. Henry was so very proud of his family, sons Peter, Terry and David.

We owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Williams Family who have shaped and continue to shape Norman Rockwell Museum in so many ways. A celebration of Henry’s life will be held at the Museum on Tuesday,  February 23, 2010 at 11:00am in the main Fitzpatrick Family Gallery.

The Williams Family have established the “Henry Williams Art Conservation Fund” at the Norman Rockwell Museum in his memory. Henry was an ardent champion of the Museum’s art collection and secured the marvelous Portrait of a Coal Miner from an art gallery as one of the Museum’s early acquisitions. Donations in his memory may be sent to:

Norman Rockwell Museum

PO BOX 308

Stockbridge, MA 01262

Att: Henry Williams Art Conservation Fund

Norman Rockwell Museum is grateful for the vision and selfless dedication of Henry Williams. We will miss him.

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