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J. Harold Williams: Bigger than Life

J. Harold Williams

J. Harold Williams

The late J. Harold Williams — Yawgoog Scout Reservation director from 1919-1950 — was also a camp chief for many years and considered one of the founders of Camp Yawgoog.

“He liked the innovation side of it, building a nonprofit up from nothing … he liked that challenge,” said Greg Marsello, his grandson, and jumped right in.

Marsello is grateful for the two decades he had with Williams, the man he remembers as “bigger than life. I don’t think there was a shy bone in his body,” he laughs. He remembers his grandfather as a real leader, with a sense of humor and knack for storytelling.

Stories were Williams’s way of illustrating a point, said Marsello, to further explain things to the Scouts at camp. “He’d use stories to provide guidance. Every Sunday, wrap-up day, all Scouts would come onto the field and he would tell a story to wrap up the week.”

He also remembers his grandfather as a Master of Ceremonies for the Saturday Night Show.

Williams certainly made a positive impact: Marsello also went to Camp Yawgoog as a Scout with Troop 117 Warwick, and went on to become an Eagle Scout. By that time, Williams had retired. Marsello’s sons also got involved in Scouting and became Eagle Scouts as well.

Today, the J. Harold Williams Award at Yawgoog Scout Reservation is one of the highest honors a Scout can receive, and allows Williams’ legacy to live on even further.

One Response to J. Harold Williams: Bigger than Life

  1. Eric W Saretsky April 29, 2017 at 6:12 pm #

    I was recalling my meeting of “Chief” Williams in 1974, finding a letter he wrote my mother and me from that time. He lead a fascinating life and it was an honor as a young teen I didn’t fully understand until I turned quite a bit grayer. I was a Boy Scout on Cape Cod and had progressed to First Class after our meeting on a Greyhound Bus ride.

    I progressed from Scouting to a Navy career of 26 years where I retired as a Senior Chief. I still have a love and respect of the outdoors and hike and camp. All the best to you and it is wonderful legacy that these camps still thrive.
    E Saretsky

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