Tuesday, July 10, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || Updated: 5:26 p.m.
Don Williams — the Maywood businessman, civic leader, minister and politician who served a term as mayor of Maywood — died on July 9. He was 92 years old. Williams’ death was confirmed by close relatives, who said that he had been in hospice care.
As a businessman, Williams owned Berger’s Pharmacy, on 13th and Oak St. in Maywood, before selling that establishment to sell State Farm Insurance. Williams was one of the first people in Maywood to sell life insurance policies to blacks.
His second wife, Ora Dee Peppers, was one of the first black realtors to sell homes in the village. Together, they created Donora Realty, which constructed and insured at least 24 homes along Maywood Drive in the 1990s.
As a civic and community leader, Williams was a longtime member of the Maywood Rotary Club and the Second Baptist Church in Maywood, where he served as an ordained minister.
Williams was also the former board director of First National Bank and president of the NAACP’s west suburban chapter. In the latter role, Williams persuaded a young Fred Hampton to lead the chapter’s youth council — a role that would help launch Hampton’s life in activism.
Don Williams, the Maywood businessman, civic leader and politician, died on July 9 at 92. | Courtesy Don Williams
As a politician, Williams carvedout another sphere of influence. In 1989, Williams defeated Joe Freelon, then the first African American mayor of Maywood, to become the village’s second African American mayor. Williams would serve one term in office.
His daughter, Karen Yarbrough, served as a state representative in the 7th District, from 2001 to 2013, before her election as Cook County Recorder of Deeds in 2013. Williams’ son-in-law, Henderson Yarbrough, would serve two terms as mayor, from 2005 to 2013, before becoming a village trustee.
“I appreciate the service he gave to the village and he will be well missed,” said Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins.
“I’ll miss him terribly,” said Dawn Williams-Rone, Williams’ granddaughter and the president of the Maywood Park District Board of Commissioners. “He was the patriarch of our family. He did a lot for Maywood.”
On Tuesday, Karen Yarbrough released a formal statement on behalf of the family.
“We are sadden by the loss of the patriarch of our family,” the statement read. “However, we have a hope in Christ and look forward to seeing him again. He made every day on this earth one of productivity , and sowing into the lives of others.He finished his course and kept the faith.”
Service times are pending. More as this story develops. VFP
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