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Phil Williams

Virginia and Phil Williams

Virginia and Phil Williams

A Tribute to Phil
by Gary Barry

Dr. Philip Williams was a scholar, pastor, teacher, husband, father and my good friend. Phil and I enjoyed a deep friendship that goes back many years. I knew Phil so well because of his wife, Virginia. Virginia and I have known each other since the early 1950s. I grew up in what was then one of the great churches of Los Angeles, the church that sent Virginia to the South American mission field of Chile.

When Virginia returned from the field, she became Dean of Women at Los Angeles Baptist College where Phil was a Professor. Phil fell in love with the Dean of Women and eventually Virginia fell in love with Professor Williams. Phil and Virginia were married in 1962 two months before Lois and I were married that same summer, in that same church. As they moved around the country, we made it a priority to celebrate as many anniversaries together as possible. Our friendship has grown deeper and sweeter over the years.

Philip Roland Williams was born December 30, 1926 in Hermleigh, Texas and grew up in west Texas. He served in the Merchant Marine during W.W.II and preached his first sermon aboard ship. In 1952, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Th.B. from Shelton College in New York, and in 1955, his Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. In 1968, he earned a Ph.D. in the classics Greek and Latin at the University of Southern California under a full government scholarship. He was a licensed private aircraft pilot.

Phil was a professor at Los Angeles Baptist College (now The Master's College) in Newhall, California; Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Torrance, California; Professor of New Testament at Dallas Seminary and Pastor of Maranatha Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. Here in Tacoma, he was the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of University Place for more than 11 years and Professor of New Testament at Northwest Baptist Seminary for 15 years.

He was well known for his ability to employ and teach New Testament Greek. Phil did extensive translation work on the Bengali New Testament, working in Bangladesh for 3 summers. He considered this the highlight of his ministry. He also worked on the translation of the New Testament for the Makushi Indians on the Amazon and on portions of the New King James version of the Bible and the Living Bible paraphrase. Phil spent two summers teaching pastors in India and one summer with Bibles International in India.

He was formerly Chairman of the Board of Tacoma Baptist Schools, Chairman of the Council of Seven of the Northwest General Association of Regular Baptist Churches and Chairman of the Council of Seven in California.

Dr. Williams is survived by his wife of thirty-two years, Virginia, daughter Jill Lizabeth, son Jay Philip, and sisters Dorris Davis of Santa Rosa, CA, Lela Stokes of Salem, OR, and Mary Davis of Pinole, CA.

Everyone who knew Phil knows that he had a very well-developed sense of humor. He remembered every good joke, and wished he didn't. Phil had a joke for every occasion. I can't remember jokes, so I had to come up here periodically to have my memory refreshed. Phil, we your dear family and friends miss you already. Those of us still here who know Christ, also know that our separation is temporary. Praise the Lord.

In closing, let me call your attention to the translation of the Greek phrase which appears in the document provided to you: "I am running for the prize." This phrase was the desire of Phil's heart for his life and, as his dear friend, let me say that this phrase did indeed characterize his life.

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