Serving the community seems be in Clarence “Reggie” Williams’ DNA.
Born in Orrville, Ohio – home most famously to Smucker’s Jam and the recently deceased fire-and-brimstone college basketball coach, Bobby Knight – Williams has made and continues to make an indelible mark on his world and those around him through servant leadership.
In 1963, while in the throes of the Vietnam War, Williams – a biology major at the College of Wooster – enlisted in the Air Force. Upon learning he was being sent to study electronics, Williams insisted his future was in medicine. He went as far as to write the Air Force a letter – stating that they were wrong; he was supposed to be a doctor.
“I wrote the best letter I ever wrote in my entire life, explaining that they had made a mistake,” Williams recalled. “I did not want to learn about electronics, I did not have any aspirations for it, I did not have any aptitude for it.
Alas, it didn’t get him far.
“They wrote me a nice, short letter back; it said ‘report.’ So, I went to electronics school.”
Flash-forward nearly three decades later: Williams retired from the Air Force after logging more than 5,000 pilot hours, eventually leading to a job at USAA before transitioning to President and CEO of the San Antonio Area Foundation, a role he proudly held for more than a decade.
While at the Area Foundation, Williams focused on further developing two core tenets inextricably linked to the organization’s identity: inclusivity in community work and the professional development program.
“The Area Foundation is core to the community of San Antonio and Bexar County. Not only in grants and scholarships and giving people a place to put their funds, but in providing real meaning when helping others. It’s been a place where community love for all types of people is demonstrated every day,” Williams said.
For decades, Williams’ impact on San Antonio has been palpable. Since his retirement from the Area Foundation in 2011, he has remained an essential figure in the community, still giving back through his own philanthropic fund with the Area Foundation.
“Reggie has been a real asset to our community, particularly through his work with the San Antonio Area Foundation,” said Charles Andrews, a San Antonio native and former President of the San Antonio Housing Authority Foundation. “I’ve known Reggie for about 30 years, and I’ve seen him help many programs and people over the years without even being asked to do it. Serve is the magic word with Reggie. He’s served because he wants to help.”
From his perspective as much as anyone else’s, Williams can see a clear thread throughout his life.
“All my jobs have dealt with service – military service, USAA, the Area Foundation, Hallmark University. And that’s ultimately what Veterans Day is all about: service. It’s a day made up of people willing to give their lives, every day, for the constitution of the United States of America,” he noted.
The Area Foundation currently manages nearly 600 philanthropic funds, many which specifically benefit the military community. Whether for the military or for a plethora of other causes, the Area Foundation is here to serve your philanthropic interests. Interested in giving back and learning the options we offer? Just click here to get started!
Ben Wiese is a contributor to the San Antonio Area Foundation Marketing & Communication Department’s Storytelling Ambassador Network.