Sam Williams, Founder Of Williams Intl., Dies At Age 88

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Dr. Sam B. Williams, founder and chairman of turbine engine company Williams International, of Walled Lake, Mich., died on Monday at the age of 88, the company announced in a news release on Tuesday. The small, efficient fanjet engines that Dr. Williams developed and patented were crucial to the development of very light jets and today are widely used on general aviation jet aircraft. The first Williams International jet engine, the FJ44-1A, was certified by the FAA in 1992, and since then, 4,000 FJ44 engines have entered service. Dr. Williams was inspired by a "lifelong dream of making jet travel safe, convenient, and affordable," the company said. He left a secure career at Chrysler Corp. in 1955 and started his own company with limited funds. Besides VLJs and bizjets, Williams engines have powered cruise missiles, the X-Jet flying platform, the V-Jet II designed by Scaled Composites that flew in 1997, and military drones. Dr. Williams was the recipient of many awards for innovation, including the Collier Trophy, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, and the National Medal of Technology. He was also inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Dr. Williams is survived by his wife of 54 years, Barbara Gibson Williams, two sons and a daughter, and three grandchildren. His son Gregg G. Williams, who is the current president and CEO of Williams International, will also assume the title of chairman.