Baylor University Mourns the Passing of Former Associate Professor of Museum Studies

August 10, 2018

Media Contact: Terry Goodrich, 254-710-3321
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WACO, Texas (Aug. 10, 2018) — Baylor University is mourning the death of Stephen L. Williams, Ph.D., retired associate professor of museum studies, who died July 31 in Waco. He was 70.

A burial service was held Friday, Aug. 3, at Waco’s Oakwood Cemetery.

“I know more recent students may ask their teachers about him, but those of us who had him for a teacher wish that you could have taken one of his classes,” said Mark Browning, former acquisitions clerk for Baylor’s Moody Library. “We signed up with ‘fear and trembling,’ but soon learned this professional had both our best interest at heart and sought to make museum work a recognized profession.

“He was our ‘To Sir, With Love.’”

Dr. Williams was born June 30, 1948, in Midland to Angela and Jacob L. Williams III. He was an Eagle Scout and graduated from Midland High School. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in biology and a master's degree in museum science from Texas Tech University. He earned his doctorate in conservation from the University of Goteborg in Goteborg, Sweden.

In the summer of 1971, Dr. Williams married Kathleen Dobbs. They had two children, Sarah and Jason. Williams began his career with The Museum at Texas Tech University as a collection manager and later moved to Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1990, he returned to The Museum at Texas Tech University and taught museum science. In 1995, he took a position at The Strecker Museum, later known as The Mayborn Museum Complex, at Baylor University and taught museum studies.

Another former student is Chris Dyer, chief executive officer of Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in Waco, who said that Dr. Williams was "not one of those professors who was super easy. He could come off as stern, but he was really kind and cared about what he did . . . We use what he taught us every day. It was very practical and what the museum field is all about."

Dr. Williams published many research papers over the course of his career. Upon retirement in 2007, he continued to work with students when needed. After his retirement, he enjoyed traveling with his family, hunting, fishing and playing with and going on dam walks with his dog and grandchildren.

Dr. Williams is survived by his wife of nearly 47 years, Kathleen Dobbs; daughter, Sarah, and husband, Allen Kaiser; son, Jason L. Williams and wife, Angel; grandchildren Will, Ben, Maddie and Jon Kaiser and Julianne, Anson, Josephine and Jacqueline Williams; sisters Kathy Buckberry and her two sons and family, and Anne and her husband, Jim Busby, and their two daughters; brother, Jacob L. Williams IV; uncle, Ignatius G. Peters and his family; aunt, Sue Peters Brady and her family; and many relatives and friends. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Dup15q Alliance. Thoughts and memories may be shared at Lake Shore Funeral Home.