WILLIAMS, EDWARD MASON (9 Nov. 1871-25 July 1936) withdrew from an active business career in midlife in order to increase his involvement in civic affairs, notably as a member of the Cleveland Board of Education. Born in Cleveland, he was the son of Edward P. and Mary Mason Williams. After graduating from Yale in 1893, he began working for the paint firm co-founded by his father, the SHERWIN-WILLIAMS CO. He married Clevelander Mary Raymond in 1899 and began his civic involvement as a director of the Children's Fresh Air Camp from 1900-12 (presideent, 1905-12). As vice-chairman of the CHAMBER OF COMMERCE committee on benevolent associations in 1911-12, he helped organize the Federation of Charity & Philanthropy, which led to the innovative United Way fundraising technique (see UNITED WAY SERVICES). Though retaining a seat on the company's executive committee, Williams ceased his day-to-day involvement at Sherwin-Williams upon his election to the Board of Education (see CLEVELAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS) in 1914. Serving as board president from 1919-32, he was praised for his executive ability to delegate authority as well as follow up. Under his tenure the system raised teacher salaries, introduced junior high schools, and worked with the CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY to establish libraries in all secondary and some elementary schools. Williams used his own funds to campaign, against the opposition of the CITIZENS LEAGUE, for construction of the Board of Education administration building on the MALL. Mounting opposition to school costs in the face of the Depression, however, led to the election of an independent slate which successfully challenged Williams' control of the board and led to his resignation. Buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY, he was survived by his wife and 4 children: Hilda, Madeline, Mary, and Edward.

Article Categories