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March 27, 1947 - October 21, 2023
Gilbert "Jerry" Williams, a loving husband, beloved father, grandfather, coach, and teacher, passed away in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, October 21, 2023, at the age of 76. He was born on March 27, 1947, in McCloud, California to Edwin and Sally Williams.
Jerry grew up a talented athlete who excelled in football and track and field. He graduated from McCloud Highschool in 1965 and continued his education and football career at Southern Oregon University (SOU) in Ashland, Oregon, where he played fullback. He earned his master’s degree from SOU in 1974.
Jerry devoted his life to coaching and teaching young people. For more than three decades he was a football coach and educator for high schools throughout the state of Oregon. His coaching career brought him to Ashland, Tigard, Sam Barlow, and Hermiston where he led his teams to many titles and championships.
In Hermiston, Jerry will be remembered as one of the most successful coaches in Hermiston High School history. He finished his coaching career in 2003 with the Bulldogs and a 23-8 record, a 2-2 playoff record, two league championships and an undefeated regular season. At the time, the Eastern Oregonian wrote that he was, “the best football coach Hermiston has ever seen.”
The highlight and true joy of Jerry’s career was coaching his son, James Williams, in his senior season at Hermiston High School. During this memorable season, the Bulldogs played in the state quarterfinals for the first time in school history, ending the season with an 11-1 record. Following in his father’s footsteps, James later played football and graduated from SOU.
Prior to his high school coaching career, Jerry worked as an assistant and a positions coach at the University of Washington, where he coached the Huskies in the Aloha Bowl and Rose Bowl in the early 1980’s. He was a life-long Huskies fan.
Jerry was an outdoorsman. He was an avid fly fisherman and enjoyed taking his drift boat down the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. He loved deer, elk, and pheasant hunting. He was a skilled cook who always had enough for the players who stopped by. He was a keen reader, a masterful storyteller, and a devoted grandfather to his eight grandchildren.
He had a presence that could fill a room, a witty sense of humor that could disarm anyone and a deep love for his family that showed up in everything he did. Beyond the immense impact he had on his immediate family, he was a leader, mentor and father figure to thousands of young men who played on his teams or walked through the halls of the schools where he taught.
Jerry Williams is survived by his wife, Susan Lish; son, James Williams; three daughters, Jennifer Grimmer, Katie Erickson and Sarah Marshall, and eight grandchildren who all miss him dearly.
He was preceded in death by his mother Sally Williams, father Edwin Williams, and sister Edwina Williams.
A Celebration of life service and reception will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Saturday, November 25th at the Hermiston High School. A reception will follow at OMG Burgers & Brew 201 E. Main Street Hermiston, OR.
Family suggests memorial donations to the North Central Oregon Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Habitat Restoration https://www.rmef.org or the Tunnels to Towers Foundation https://t2t.org/.
Burns Mortuary of Hermiston is in care of arrangements. To leave an online condolence for the family please go to www.burnsmortuaryhermiston.com