Cover photo for Philip Williams's Obituary
1939 Philip 2020

Philip Williams

August 22, 1939 — April 30, 2020

Philip Williams, 80, beloved Husband, Father, and Brother, was called to his eternal resting place on April 30, 2020. He entered this world on August 22, 1939, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, born to Philip and Minette Williams. He is survived by his wife Vernah Williams; sons Philip, Christopher (Molly), and Scott (Tara) Williams; daughters Suzzanne (Gordon) Harwood, Beth (Gary) Bobb, and Sandie (Joseph) Krebs; 16 grandchildren: Zac, Chelsea, Jon (Jonadel), James, Shelby, Shaye, Shyler, and Shepherd Williams;  Felicity (Peter) Azzouni; Nick (Marah) and Jeremiah Runtsch; Brandon, Logan, and Wyatt Bobb; and Isaac and Gwendolyn Wilson; 4 great-grandchildren: Anna and Evie Azzouni, Oliver Chavez, and Ophelia Cadena; brothers George (Liz) Williams; and Herb (Kathy) Williams, and several nieces and nephews. Phil's father was a State Department officer, and brought his family to his various assignments, in Brazil, Argentina, Bahamas, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. Young Phil entered high school and junior college at New Mexico Military Institute, (NMMI), in Roswell, NM, while his family went to his father’s new assignment in Israel. Phil spent his short vacations visiting his grandparents in California. He would ride the train, taking the Santa Fe Doodlebug from Roswell to Clovis, where he would transfer to the Santa Fe’s San Francisco chief for the remainder of the trip. He would ride in the top of the double decker car working his way up to the front as people would leave the train at their stops. He truly loved trains! He spent his summers with his parents and brothers in Israel (traveling to Lebanon and Syria as well): and also in Washington DC and Haiti when his father was given those assignments. Phil received a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Texas A&M University. After graduation, he met and married his first wife, the late Mary Whealy, and the couple produced 4 children. Phil served in the Army from 1961 - 1968, and because of his lifelong love of radios and fluency in Spanish, was recruited by the National Security Agency at Fort Meade, MD. He and his first wife were divorced after 13 years of marriage, and he retained custody of their children. He met the love of his life, Vernah Newport, and married her on June 6, 1975, in Laurel, MD. Phil brought his family with him to his new position as Operations Officer at RAF Edzell, a joint US Navy/Royal Air Force station in Scotland. While in Scotland, the couple produced two more children.  After a 3-year assignment in Scotland, the older two children returned to the States where they lived with their mother, completed high school, and joined the Air Force. Phil was reassigned to Harrogate, England, where the family lived for 3 more years. Phil received his amateur radio license, as a technician, call sign N2BYO, and, of course, built a train layout in his garage. While living in the United Kingdom, various members of the family were able to visit Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and many parts of the UK. The remaining family returned to Maryland in 1983, where Phil continued to work with NSA at Fort Meade. In 1990, Phil was offered a job at the US Air Force/Australian Joint Defense Facility/Pine Gap in Alice Springs, Australia, and was promoted at the same time to the Senior Executive Service. Phil, Vernah, and the youngest two children thoroughly enjoyed their tour in Australia, where they remained for 4 years. While there, Phil was honored by being awarded the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement in recognition of his superior performance of duty from August 1990 to March 1991 as the Chief of Operations at an overseas ground station during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. This is one of the highest medals a civilian in the intelligence community can be awarded. In 1994, Phil returned to the States, and retired at age 55 from the National Security Agency, having served 33 years in Government service. The family moved to Clovis, NM, in September 1994, where Phil's lifelong love of model trains was lovingly displayed in the Clovis Depot Model Train Museum. One of Phil's passions was the development of a historic railroad district in downtown Clovis, and he worked for several years to get the Santa Fe #9005 switch engine moved to its present site on 1st Street, which is now the Phil and Vernah Williams Historic Railroad Park. Phil and Vernah ran the museum and model train store until 2016, when Phil's back problems caused them to sell the business. Phil was well known in Clovis for volunteering to serve on various organizations and committees. He was a founding member of the Clovis MainStreet program, and the Clovis Area Train Society. He also served on the Hotel Clovis committee, with the Clovis Historical Society, and volunteered at the Lighthouse Mission. He is a devout member of First United Methodist Church, and has been privileged to occasionally teach Sunday School. At his former churches, he served twice as President of the congregation Council and once as Secretary. In recent years he has studied religions of the world as compared to Christianity and was beginning a study of our Lord Jesus as he is depicted in ancient Apocryphal texts. His curiosity, intelligence, kindness, and love of God are characteristics we will all miss.

A memorial service will be held in Mr. Williams honor on Saturday June 12, 2021 at 10:00am at the First United Methodist Church located at 1501 Sycamore street, Clovis, NM. A private burial will be held at the columbarium at NMMI in Roswell, NM afterwards.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society or to the First United Methodist church, Clovis.

Services in loving care by Steed Todd Funeral Home.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Philip Williams, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Starts at 10:00 am (Central time)

Steed Todd Funeral Home


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