Alfred Elmer Williams


(Jan. 20, 2010)

Alfred Elmer Williams died on Jan. 20, 2010, with his wife, Lorraine, by his side. He had been in hospice care in Billings during a short illness.

Al was born May 8, 1924 in Staples, Minn., to Elmer and Helen Williams. He grew up in Staples and attended school there. He worked for Gambles Hardware in Staples during high school and later in Superior, Wisc. until he was drafted into the U.S. Army during WWII.

On Jan.  31, 1944 he married his high school sweetheart, Lorraine Alme, in St. Paul, Minn. He served in the Army under Patton and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He was honorably discharged at the end of the war.

After his discharge, he went back to work for Gambles. He and Lorraine lived Ely, Minn., Ironwood, Mich., and Rochester, Minn. While living in Rochester, they adopted their children, Judy and David.

Al always wanted to live in the West. In 1964 Gambles opened a discount store chain, Tempo, and Al opened the Twin Falls, Idaho, store. Later the family moved to Havre, Mont. where Al resumed working for Gambles.

In 1969 he bought his own Gambles store in Powell, which he ran until he retired in 1981. He and Lorraine enjoyed their retirement years spent babysitting their first granddaughter, Tracy, traveling and wintering in various Arizona locations, with Bullhead City a favorite.

All his life Al loved horses and owned many over the years. He was especially fond of Arabians and was very proud of his stallion, Al’s Malik.

Al did not know how to “do nothing.” When he was no longer living on the Willwood, haying and tending his garden and animals, he stayed busy in town collecting old computers and refurbishing them, then donating them to needy kids. Later he rebuilt bicycles and gave them away to needy children and college students. 

He had a way with children, especially babies, and he loved handing out suckers to the kids who came into Gambles with their parents.

Al is survived by Lorraine, his wife of nearly 66 years; daughter Judy Goodrich (Malcolm) of Billings; son Dave Williams of Powell; grandchildren Tracy Gates (Brandon) of Powell and Colin and Ainsley Goodrich of Billings; great-grandson, Kolby Gates, of Powell; older sister, Mildred Boyer, of Whittier, Calif.; younger brother, Alvin, of Bloomington, Minn.; brother-in-law, Allyn Alme (Kay) of Rochester, who he and Lorraine helped raise; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Jan. 23 at Thompson Funeral Home. The family requests memorials be sent Riverstone Hospice, 1019 Neptune, Billings, MT 59105, to the local food bank or the charity of one’s choice.