Astronaut

Michael Robert Williams

November 6, 1941 ~ February 3, 2021 (age 79)

Obituary

Michael Robert Williams passed away on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at the age of 79.  After several months of declining health and complications related to Covid-19, Michael died peacefully surrounded by his children and grandchildren in the home of his son Michael J. Williams of Eagle Mountain, Utah, where he had lived for the past three years.

Michael was the grandson of Seminole pioneers, Nellie Hull Janes and Merle W. Janes, who came to Oklahoma in 1904.

Michael was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on November 6, 1941. He graduated from John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City, in 1959, a straight A student. He attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, on an academic scholarship, graduating in 1964 with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering. He earned a Masters in Electrical Engineering at UCLA in 1968, and attended classes toward a PhD.

He enjoyed the sport of wrestling both in high school and at MIT. At MIT, he left an impressive record of 36 wins, 6 draws, and 1 loss, and was invited to participate in the 1964 NCAA tournament at Cornell University.  His wrestling picture still hangs in the wrestling room at MIT. Michael was also a lifelong member of Sigma Chi Fraternity.   

Following MIT, Michael went to work at Hughes Aircraft Company from 1964 to 1977 in the Los Angeles, California area.  Among other assignments, he was tasked to design and create the transmitters for the Surveyor Moon Lander and two satellites, which brought images of the moon to earth in preparation for manned missions.  His thumbprint still sits on equipment on the moon.  

Michael moved to the Seattle, Washington area to work for the Boeing Company from 1977 to 2002, when he retired.  Among other projects, he was a radar software engineer on the AWACS program, which brought him many times back to Tinker AFB to prove embedded software. 

A brilliant mind with extraordinary technical and mathematical knowledge, Michael also wrote a vast poetry collection and a math book for children. He enjoyed running, golfing, hiking, land-scaping, snorkeling, relaxing on the beach, going on scenic drives, telling bedtime stories, sharing his scientific and religious theories, and spending time with family and friends.  During his retirement years, he enjoyed living in both Mt. Vernon, Washington and on the island of Oahu, at the Makaha Valley Towers. 

When he lived in Oklahoma, he attended the First Methodist Church in Britton and Seminole, Oklahoma. He enjoyed attending different churches in the Boston area while at MIT.  His favorite was the Trinity Episcopal Church.  After his move to Los Angeles, he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1969, and held many callings in this church, including being a Bishop from 2001 to 2005 in Mt. Vernon, Washington. Hardworking, loyal, and stalwart in his convictions and belief in his faith, he valiantly strove to live the gospel of Jesus Christ until his last moment.  

Michael was preceded in death by his second wife of 33 years, Sereta Isabelle Welch, grandparents Merle W. and Nellie Janes, parents Elizabeth Janes and Michael M.L. Williams, younger sister Alice Lynn, of Alva, Oklahoma, and younger brother Richard Forest Williams of Houston, Texas.  He is survived by his younger sister Matilda Katherine Williams, of Seminole, Oklahoma; his first wife of 21 years, Judith Mary-Elizabeth McSorley, of Santaquin, Utah; three children, including Mark Alexander Williams of Knoxville, Tennessee, Geniel Marie Ashcraft of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and Michael Jason Williams of Eagle Mountain, Utah; three step-children, including Dr. Kirk Brownell of Burlington, Washington, Mark Brownell of Burlington, Washington, and Rachael Brownell of Bellingham, Washington; and twenty-two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

We will never forget the impact you had on us and your world.  Thank you.

Michael’s and Sereta’s ashes will be laid to rest by their family at some future date and location to be determined.  The family has chosen to honor Michael’s life through a zoom memorial with family.  There will be no public funeral or burial service.  People wishing to offer condolences are encouraged to contact his sister Matilda K. Williams at katherinewill@earthlink.net or his son, Kirk Brownell, MD at Kirkbrownell@icloud.com

 

 

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