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Memorial

George Palmer Williams
Regents' Proceedings 92

At a meeting of the University Senate, held September 5, 1881, the following memorandum, relative to the death of Professor George P. Williams was ordered to be placed in the minutes:

With profound emotions the Senate of the University has received intelligence of the death of its oldest member, Professor George Palmer Williams. Yesterday, at sunrise, he expired without a struggle, at the ripe age of seventy-nine years and four months.

By this death is severed the last of those living links that connect the present condition of the University with its earliest history. Appointed to a professor's chair in 1841, Dr. Williams welcomed the first student that came to Ann Arbor for instruction; as President of the Faculty, he gave diplomas to the first class that graduated; and from the day of his appointment to the hour of his death his official connection with the University was never broken.

During the whole of this long term of educational service many qualities of a high order shone out with peculiar luster in the life of Dr. Williams.

His loyalty and devotion to the University were without reserve; his faith in the principles on which the institution is founded was unflagging; and the interest with which he watched the various phases of its development ended only with the approach of death. On the last day of his life his conversation frequently turned upon its condition and its interests.

In his intercourse with his colleagues he was remarkable for the dignified courtesy of his bearing, the hearty warmth of his greetings, and the radiant humor of his conversation. His wit was proverbial; but it was so free from the bitterness of malice and the stings of sarcasm that it was always a source of pleasure, never a source of pain." To meet him was always a pleasure; to take his hand always a satisfaction.

But it was in his relations with his pupils that the peculiar qualities of his nature were most marked. In extraordinary measure he impressed upon them his own character. Of the hundreds that sat under his instruction many, perhaps, have forgotten the science he taught; but there is probably not one that does not feel that he was made better by his friendly admonition or his fatherly advice. His bearing was felt to be a rebuke of every mean act. His interest in all his pupils had the gentle qualities of a personal and almost a paternal fondness; and hence it was but the natural and spontaneous expression of his heart that even to the end of his life he spoke of them all as "his boys." By his boundless sympathy and his fatherly interest many a wayward youth was turned into the path of true advancement; and there are not a few who look to his words and his influence -as the beginnings of a new life. There are some who, if they would, might say with Samuel of old: "Thy gentleness hath made us great."

As the intelligence of the death of Dr. Williams goes over the country, it will fall upon hundreds of hearts with the shock of a personal bereavement. Probably in every State in the Union there are those who will mourn his loss; but there is not one of his pupils who will not remember the lofty nobility of his character and the all-embracing charity of his affection, and who will not rejoice that it was his privilege to sit under the instruction of so true a friend and so good a man.

We extend our hearty sympathies to the family of our friend in the hour of their bereavement; and we desire in a body to join with them in the last sad tribute to his earthly remains.