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Joel Edward Williamson

October 12, 2009

Dad 3

My father passed away on September 24. We held a funeral service for him on September 30, and he was cremated a couple days later. His remains will be laid to rest on December 4. The wait is due to the backlog of dead soldiers waiting for spaces to clear at Arlington National Cemetery.

The Washington Post refused to publish his obituary because according to their criteria he was not a “long-term resident”. According to the Post, five years as a youth plus the last 13 – a total of 18 – does not qualify one as a member of the DC area community. Nor does the fact that he had bought a house (which he was sadly in the process of remodeling), was active in his local church and other organizations, and had held several military and civilian posts of considerable responsibility factor into the equation. Never mind that he gave 30 years of distinguished service to his country, during which he was virtually without a hometown.

As you can see, I am still a little bitter.

Since the Post has refused to publish my father’s obituary, and he really belongs to no other community, I am going to post it here:

Joel Edward Williamson
Colonel U. S. Army (retired)

Joel Edward Williamson, 60, who served in the U. S. Army for 30 years and worked with the military as a civilian following his retirement, died suddenly at the Virginia Hospital Center on September 24.

Joel was born in Brookings, SD, and moved to Alexandria, VA, at age 13. He graduated from Francis C. Hammond High School and attended the College of William and Mary, participating in the ROTC program during his four years there. In the space of one month in 1971, Joel graduated from college, married Nancye Beth Caskey, his high school sweetheart, and entered the Army.

Over the course of his distinguished career as an infantry officer, Joel served as a platoon leader, company commander and twice as an aide-de-camp. He commanded a training battalion at Fort Benning, GA.   He was a military assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and served as the garrison commander of Fort Drum, NY. He returned to the Washington, DC area in 1996, settling in Vienna, VA, and finished his career at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and CSA.

Following his retirement, Joel worked as a contractor and then returned to the Pentagon in 2006 as Director, Administration and Resources in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/4/7, Department of the Army, a position he held until his death. He was posthumously awarded the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, which is the highest commendation that can be conferred upon a civilian by the Army.

He was an active member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church of Vienna and the Optimist Club of Greater Vienna, VA.  Joel’s interests included travel, reading, and sports. He will be remembered by those who knew him best as a devoted family man who enjoyed nothing more than spending time with his family.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Nancye; son Patrick of Honolulu, HI; son Daniel of Washington, DC; daughter Joellen of New York, NY; father Edward Williamson; sister Theanne Peterson of Brookings, SD; sister Kristin O’Meara of Rochester, MN; and two grandchildren.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. JoLee Hessdoerfer permalink
    October 12, 2009 11:54 pm

    Patrick, I am so sad to learn of the passing of your Father!!! Joel was an AWSOME Father, Husband, and Friend! I am priviledged to say that he was a Super Friend while we lived in Belgium! And even though we only sent Christmas cards after his return to the USA I still have VERY fond memories of your whole Family!!! My Heart, Love, and Prayers go out to You and Your Family! (I too am VERY angry with the Post!!!)
    Love, JoLee Hessdoerfer

  2. Theanne Peterson permalink
    October 13, 2009 1:44 am

    Thanks Patrick for posting Joel’s obituary. It means alot to see what my wonderful brother accomplished in his short life.

  3. Aunt Kristin permalink
    October 13, 2009 3:00 am

    Thank you, Patrick for the complete obituary. I had no idea that the Post wouldn’t print the complete one. I appreciated seeing it. He was so special and I miss him. Hope M, T, K, and you are all doing as well as you can. I love you. Aunt K

  4. Grandpa W. permalink
    October 13, 2009 8:06 pm

    Patrick-Thank you for publishing Joel’s obituary. You have always had a special talent for writing and have done your father proud.
    Love, Grandpa W.

  5. Doug Brown permalink
    October 15, 2009 7:55 pm


    You and I have not met, but your dad and I were fraternity brothers at William and Mary and received our ROTC commissions on the same day in 1971. He was a great guy and I have many memories of fun times at Lambda Chi on the W&M campus all those years ago. Thank you for sharing information about his life and career.

    Best wishes,

    Doug Brown
    Troy, Michigan
    William and Mary, 1971

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