Theodore Roosevelt "Ted" Williams, 75, a retired professor of chemistry at the College of Wooster and a native of the District, died Nov. 11 of complications from a fall at University Hospital in Cleveland.
Dr. Williams was born in the District and, from the age of 10, worked mornings and after school at the Dupont Laundry Co. in his Columbia Heights neighborhood. According to his sister, he was the company's first black employee. "He was a hard worker his whole life," she said.
He worked hard in the classroom as well, graduating in 1948 from Dunbar High School. He received a bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1952, a master's degree from Penn State University in 1954 and a doctorate from the University of Connecticut in 1959. All of his degrees were in chemistry.
He joined the chemistry faculty at the College of Wooster in 1959. During his years on the Ohio campus, he took pride in his role as a science educator and was known for his research on human eye tissue. He worked on new techniques to identify disease in the lens and cornea.
He was committed to making science more accessible to women and minorities, working with the B-WISER (Buckeye Women in Science, Education and Research) Institute and COSEN (Carolinas and Ohio Science and Engineering Network), a program that promotes science education among women and minorities.
He got to know his students, and when they came to him for advice, he often took them on one of his trademark walks around the campus. He also was known for cruising around Wooster in his classic 1973 Buick LeSabre.
He received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring shortly after his retirement in 2001. The award honors educators who encourage women, minorities and people with disabilities to pursue science and engineering careers and was presented at the White House.
He was a longtime member of the American Chemical Society and a recipient of the Percy L. Julian Award for significant contributions in science or engineering research presented by the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He also won the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.
Dr. Williams loved music and was the founder of the Wooster Chamber Music Series, now in its 21st year.
Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Yvonne Carter Williams of Wooster; four daughters, Lynora Williams of the District, Alison Leazer of Metuchen, N.J., Meredith Williams of San Francisco and Lesley Williams of Durham, N.C.; a sister, Dolores Tucker of the District; and two grandchildren.