CHARLES R. H. WILLIAMS
1928 – 2022
Charles Williams (Chuck) peacefully passed away on May 6, 2022, at the age of 93, at his home in SW Bakersfield. He lived a long and full life. He was born on December 23, 1928, in Istanbul (then called Constantinople), Turkey. The fifth of five children born to famed National Geographic photographer and writer Maynard Owen Williams, and former missionary Daisy Woods Williams, Chuck’s first years were spent in Turkey and France. The Williams family moved to the Washington D.C. area in 1930 to be close to the National Geographic’s headquarters when his father became the chief of the foreign editorial staff of the National Geographic Society.
Chucks childhood was spent largely in the Washington DC area during a time when his father traveled the world over. While attending his K-12, Chuck developed a great fascination with water, receiving numerous swimming awards under the watchful eyes of his mother Daisy. In fact, at a young age, all the children of the family excelled at swimming bringing up visions of a pond of pollywogs.
Chuck attended the University of Maryland before enlisting in the Marine Corp. He was discharged in 1948 and immediately re-enlisted. Upon his marriage to Shirley Holmes, the pair began their family in 1951 with first born David. Again, discharged from the Marines, Chuck and Shirley welcomed Richard in 1953. Now living in Michigan, Chuck enrolled at Kalamazoo College with a transfer to Stanford University where he received his master’s degree in Hydraulic Engineering in 1955. Shortly after graduation the young family relocated to Bakersfield, California where Chuck was offered a position at Kern County Land Company. A third son was born to Chuck and Shirley in 1962. Ian completed the family and they settled in near the boys’ grandparents, Darryl and Thelma Holmes.
Later, life took an unexpected turn for Chuck. Finding himself a single dad, he turned to his church for prayers and direction. Eventually, he found a soul mate in Rona Dunbar, a single mom with her own large brood, they married 1967. Happy to combine their families, Chuck and Rona were now the parents of seven; six teenagers and one five-year-old! Life was unpredictable but the large family seemed to thrive, keeping close to their faith under the watchful eyes of Reverend John and Gloria Marshall, together with all their friends at University Baptist Church in Bakersfield.
Ten years later Chuck became Manager for the North Kern Water Storage District. The interim position of Kern County Water Master was given to him as well, a political position which consisted of negotiating water interests between Kern County water stakeholders and the BLM for Lake Isabella discharge water. Never an easy task, the job of trying to satisfy all entities, Chuck was able to excel in this endeavor for 37 years.
Unforeseen medical problems began to arise for Chuck’s wife, Rona. She courageously battled Alzheimer’s Disease for several years before passing away in 1997. The long goodbye took a toll on Chuck, and he was slow to recover, relying heavily on his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Chuck was blessed with a long and fulfilling life, surviving the ups and downs with grace. He was ever buoyed by his unquestioning faith, his family, and friends. He is remembered as a man of great strength while always remaining humble and soft spoken. Generous to a fault he availed himself to those in need. This included opening his getaway home in Cambria to family and friends for recharging. Great fun was had by all at the Cambria beach house. Shamel Park was nearby and close to the ocean where everyone searched for a moonstone. Rock climbing, sand flea digging, fishing, making memories, all who enjoyed it will never forget.
One of Chuck’s greatest joys during the second half of his life was weekly morning breakfasts with his prayer group. Friends for years, these people meant the world to Chuck. He also found joy in a new partner, Carole Kightlinger, whom he married and traveled with during his last years. He reluctantly retired from water at age 85.
Chuck is survived by his sons David, Rick and Ian Williams; wife Carole and her children Jim, Jennifer and Rick; Rona’s children Dave, Gayle, Lori and Kenny, as well as many grandchildren. He will be missed by all.
The family will honor Chuck’s wishes for cremation and have his ashes interned at a military cemetery. There will be a memorial service held at Northside Community Church, 3331 Calloway Drive, Bakersfield, CA, 93312, on Thursday, June 2 at 11 AM. Reception at the church to follow. Questions regarding the service can be directed to Jessica at (661) 589-3535.
Donations may be made in his honor to a charity or church of your choice as Chuck would have wished.