Williams—Kale Alonzo Williams Jr., 90, on January 7, 2016, at home in Boulder, Colo. Kale was born on August 7, 1925, in Independence, Kans., to Hazel Parks and Kale Williams Sr. He grew up in the small town of Cedar Vale, Kans., the oldest of seven children. At 17 he joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, his experiences in the war leading him to become a pacifist and a tenacious advocate for human rights and nonviolent social change. Following the war, he went to University of Chicago, beginning more than 67 years in Hyde Park and the Chicago, Ill., metropolitan area. He became a member of Fifty-seventh Street Meeting in Chicago in the early 1950s and worked for American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in 1951–1972 in the Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pasadena offices, ultimately directing the Chicago office. Opposing the Vietnam War, during his years with AFSC, he challenged racial segregation, helped address injustice in Chicago’s low-income communities, and assisted Native Americans in the Southwest. In 1968–1970 he and his family lived in Nigeria, where he directed a relief program during the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
A pivotal time in his life occurred when he worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago to secure fair-housing opportunities for all citizens. After the 1966 open housing marches, he joined the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities, serving as executive director for more than 20 years. In 1994, he became a visiting professor of applied ethics at Loyola University Chicago and later served for more than 10 years as senior scholar in residence at Loyola’s Center for Urban Research and Learning, where he inspired many students and faculty.
As immersed as he was in urban problems, Kale was often at his happiest on his land in Porter County, Ind., tending his big garden, walking the woods, and cooking meals for friends and family. The Williamses donated part of the property to the Moraine Nature Preserve to ensure that its beautiful wooded ravines would remain protected. He retired at age 80 and moved to Boulder in 2013.
Kale is survived by his wife of 66 years, Helen Leonard Williams; his children, Kale Leonard Williams, Mark Williams, and Sara Williams-Mann (Stuart Mann); and five grandchildren. He never forgot his Kansas roots and remained close to his five surviving siblings and many nieces and nephews.