William & Mary

Message on Roy Williams

Sam Jones, senior vice president for finance and administration, sent the following message on the passing of Roy Williams to the campus community on Jan. 16, 2019. - Ed.

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great sadness that I notify the campus of the January 3, 2019 passing of Roy Williams.

Roy Williams grew up in Hampton, Virginia, receiving his horticulture degree from Virginia Tech with an emphasis on landscape design. His early career was spent in the landscape nursery field as owner of Garden Gallery Gifts in Hampton, Newport News, and Williamsburg. In 1980, Roy was invited to William & Mary by then President Thomas Graves to undertake the task of total campus beautification. Within five years, Roy's efforts resulted in William & Mary being recognized as one of the most beautiful campuses in America. His love of plants and design brought joy and beauty to countless visitors to both William & Mary and Colonial Williamsburg. Recognizing Roy’s contribution to the university landscape, President Emeritus Timothy J. Sullivan notes that  “Those of us who love the College are rightly in awe of the beauty of our campus. No one in my lifetime made a greater contribution to that beauty than Roy. Would not any of us be grateful for such a monument?”  Roy received many honors including the Staff Service Award from the Alumni Association and the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award from the university for his contributions to the betterment of William & Mary. In retirement, Roy enjoyed travel to America's great southwest, Palm Springs, New England, Florida and Nova Scotia while also operating an antiques business.

Roy is survived by his partner and spouse of 49 years, Stephen David Cabaniss; his sister, Betty Lee Smith; his sister-in-law, Mary Dale Williams; and multiple nieces and nephews.  We extend our condolences to his family and friends.

Sam