Lafayette Williams, 83, of Knoxville, Tennessee, a respected entrepreneur in the Southeast livestock industry, passed away on Sept 9, 2021.
He suffered a ruptured aneurysm, followed by a stroke with additional complications.
Lafayette was a founding partner of the Knoxville Livestock Center, which became the largest stockyard east of the Mississippi River within the first 3 years of operation.
He was a charter member of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, and the Knox County Cattlemen’s Association.
Early in his career, he had worked as a General Fieldman for Tennessee Farmers Co-op.
He was a long-term member of AgCentral Farmers Co-op, and Knox Farmers Co-op.
He was a Founding Member of the TN Cattlemen’s Association, helped organize its business structure, recruited members, and served as its 3rd President.
In recognition of his leadership and influence, TCA established the Lafayette Williams Businessperson of the Year Award, which is given annually.
Opening his farm, RiverView Family Farm, to guests was something he delighted in.
You may have met him at the annual Easter Festival, a Holiday Barn Sale, or a wedding on the farm.
He never hesitated to give free advice to groomsmen in a wedding party; one of his favorite sayings was “Marry an asset!”
Guests were fond of Lafayette’s stories about local history, Tennessee agriculture and the family farm.
He could weave farm history into any discussion, at anyplace, at anytime.
Lafayette and his wife, Janice, were advocates and supporters of 4-H and FFA activities.
Beginning with his two sisters, he taught the art of showing livestock and stockmanship to many, including his own children and grandchildren.
You would never have to ask him twice to attend a cattle show or sale — the call of the auctioneer rang in his heart.
From an early age, he exhibited at the TN Valley Fair as a child, and has served on its board for many years.
He was instrumental in the Knoxville Finished Cattle Show.
He was an avid fan of classic cars, especially Chevrolets.
Cruise-Ins, tours, and AACA Shows were a highlight on his calendar.
Engaging in conversations with other car enthusiasts was something he looked forward to.
Cherished friendships were cultivated over classic cars.
Once a month, Lafayette gathered with his fellow graduates of Farragut High School’s class of 1956.
He graduated first in his class from the University of Tennessee College of Agriculture, followed by earning a Master’s Degree, both in Animal Science. While a student at the University, Lafayette was a member of the Livestock, Dairy, and Meats Judging Teams.
In the 1960’s, Lafayette was the first person to earn a perfect score at the National Collegiate Meat Judging competition in Chicago.
He continued to share his passion and knowledge for quality meat with his beef customers for more than 65 years.
Getting to know his customers, their families and educating them about beef was something he considered an honor.
He had a personalized approach and treated each customer as if they were his only one.
The treasured friendships formed in agriculture were a vital cornerstone in Lafayette’s life.
Colleagues in agriculture and other sectors sought out Lafayette’s respected counsel as they began new ventures and organizations.
Growing up in Virtue Cumberland Presbyterian Church, he served as an elder. Sunday School and church fellowship were a foundation of his love for Christ. Later, he attended Central Baptist Church of Bearden.
Honoring their patriarch, The Williams family will continue to grow the legacy of their historic RiverView Family Farm in west Knox County, a seventh-generation farm serving local beef consumers since 1801.
It was always the plan to have a farm store, where Lafayette could welcome customers where they could step back in time, sit a spell, and enjoy the peace of the farm.
While this didn’t happen while he was alive, the dream will continue, and he can watch from above. His children and grandchildren are following in his footsteps and will honor in his legacy.
A son of Walton and Garnette Williams, of Concord, Tennessee, Lafayette was born on May 18, 1938.
To remember him, he leaves behind his wife, Janice, whom he loved dearly, and was married to for more than 52 years. He admiringly joked that his wife was his greatest asset.
Lafayette was proud of his children and grandchildren and their accomplishments.
He is survived by his son, Byron Williams (Stacy Johnson), daughter Rachel, her husband Chris Samulski, their daughters Iris and June.
Grandaddy, Lafayette, often lovingly referred to his granddaughters as ‘his boys,’ which, to their dismay made their eyes roll.
Additionally, he leaves two sisters, Sarah Williams Stewart (Dr. Jack Stewart), Gail Williams Welch (Ronald Welch), brother, Wendell Williams; brother-in-law, John Hurst (Becky), several nieces and nephews, and a wide circle of friends and neighbors.
Lafayette also deeply valued the contributions of his farm staff through the years at RiverView Family Farm.
Memorials may be sent to:
The Williams Agriculture Legacy Fund
c/o AgCentral Farmers Co-op
920 N. Congress Parkway
Athens, TN 37303
Funds will be utilized for a project to benefit the Southeast production agriculture industry.
Visitation was held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16th, at Click Funeral Home, Farragut Chapel, 11915 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37934.
Burial service was held 11 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 17th, at the Choto (Concord) Masonic Cemetery, 11019 Second Drive, Concord, 37922.
A Celebration of Life will take place at the family farm, RiverView Family Farm, on Sunday, Sept. 19, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., with the service beginning at 3 p.m.
The farm’s address is 12130 Prater Lane, Knoxville, TN 37922.
The family is being served by Click Funeral Home, Farragut Chapel.