WBHS Band Grateful for $35,000 Donation from Class of 1954 Alum

band members with check

Richard Williams cherished the time he spent in the (then) Winder High School Band. He proudly served as band captain and graduated from the school in 1954 while also providing care to his terminally ill father during his senior year. Mr. Williams would describe his time at school as his escape and that music was his refuge.

Before passing away this year, Mr. Williams asked his wife, Cheryl, to sell his instruments and donate the money to the band. One of the instruments is a rare 1956 Gibson Les Paul he purchased and played in a band called The Continentals. That guitar is valued at $35,000.

On Wednesday, May 15, 2024, Mrs. Williams presented a check that read, “From the Estate of J. Richard Williams - may his passion for music march on in the hearts of students.” Those in attendance included his niece, his high school best friend and fellow 1954 graduate Bobby Lundy and his wife, Barbara, and WBHS administrators.

Mrs. Williams says, “It’s so perfect that this donation will go to help buy new band uniforms because Richard helped fundraise for new uniforms when he was in the band.” 

Dena McElhannon, WBHS Principal’s Secretary and proud mom of Josie (a GG band musician), purchased another one of Mr. Williams’ guitars. “Cheryl and Richard used to sing together and their favorite song to perform was ‘Country Roads.’ Josie feels honored to play the song for Cheryl on his guitar.”

The Jazz Band, directed by Dr. Floyd, also played two big-band era songs during the check presentation. They are beyond thankful for this generous gift to help their program. WBHS Principal Derrick Maxwell says, “With this donation, Mr. Williams is leaving a legacy behind for our future musicians.”

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