University of Delaware

In Memoriam

Civil rights pioneer Leonard L. Williams dies at age 78


Editor's note: A tribute to Judge Leonard Williams by Tony Allen and Monte T. Squire, both UD alumni, was published in the Wilmington News Journal on March 7, 2013.

11:48 a.m., March 11, 2013--Leonard L. Williams, Delaware civil rights pioneer, retired municipal court judge, esteemed public servant and University of Delaware alumnus, died March 2, surrounded by his family. He was 78.

A native of Wilmington, Del., Judge Williams enrolled at UD in 1952, two years after Parker v. University of Delaware, the case that desegregated the University in 1950. 

He was an outstanding scholar and a star player on the varsity football team, the first African-American to compete for the Blue Hen football squad. He was a three-year letterwinner in 1953-55, starting as a senior and helping lead the team to an impressive three-year mark of 23-4. 

After he graduated from UD in 1956 with a bachelor's degree in English, history and political science,  he earned his law degree from Georgetown University.

He returned to Delaware in the late 1950s and practiced law with Louis L. Redding until Redding's retirement. He worked with Redding on many landmark civil rights cases. He also served as a municipal judge in Wilmington for 35 years before retiring from the bench.

In 1986, Judge Williams was inducted into the University's Alumni Wall of Fame. 

He is survived by his wife, Andrea H. Williams; three children, Leonard "Bucky" L. Williams, Dena H. Broyles (Eric), and Garrett V. Williams (Andreeze); siblings, Grace Martin, Richard Williams (Juanita), Shirley Wilson, Joyce Holland (John), April Williams, Dorothy Brown, James "Victor" Williams (Deborah), Alphonso Williams (Roslyn), Gilbert Williams (Joy), Carolyn Williams, Carlton Williams, Claudette Woodlyn, Gregory Williams (Tanya), and Eleanor Harris (Thomas). He is also survived by one aunt, Rosie Brown; his mother-in-law, Dr. Sallie Holmes, and nieces, nephews, cousins, other family and friends. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in memory of The Hon. Leonard L. Williams to The Delaware Community Foundation, 100 West 10th St., Suite 115, Wilmington, DE 19801. 

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