Robert Howard “Dan” Williams

Published 11:46 am Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Robert Howard “Dan” Williams, 74, of Hillsborough, N.C., passed away on Friday, Feb. 18, at Hospice of the Carolina Foothills in Landrum, S.C., after an extended illness.

Raised in Polk County, N.C., first at Lake Adger and then Tryon, he was the son of the late Robert Burton Williams and Mamie Bishop Williams. Educated in the Tryon schools, he was a graduate of East Carolina University and attended graduate school at the University of Michigan and New York University. He was a member of APO service fraternity and was twice named to “Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities.” He was also an English department teaching assistant; a founder and editor of the ECU Literary Journal; and a member of the original Southern Writers’ Conference. He served in the Navy Reserve from 1954 to 1962.

Dan spent his career in book publishing. For a number of years he worked in New York with Doubleday Publishing Company and in the trade and college book divisions of Time, Inc., becoming Time’s youngest senior editor. He also served as assistant managing editor and head of the USIA overseas reprint program, and worked on special projects for Appleton Century Croft and Harcourt Brace Javonovich.

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In 1989, with his wife Julia, he founded Tryon Publishing Co., Inc., specializing in non-fiction, including a series of artists’ sketchbooks including Charleston, Cape Cod, Tryon, New Orleans, Atlanta and Williamsburg. In addition they published “coffee table” histories with noted Southern authors Lee Smith and Clyde Edgerton. In 1995 the Williams’ moved to Chapel Hill and then Hillsborough, where, in addition to continuing their publishing activities, they opened an independent book store. Dan was a member of the Tryon First Baptist Church and also sang in the Holy Cross Episcopal boys’ choir, later becoming an Episcopalian.

He is survived by his wife, Julia Calhoun Williams; two sons, Daniel of Louisville, Ky., and Andrew of Villanova, Pa.; two daughters, Melissa Lowrey of Chicago and Eleanor Johnson of Louisville, Ky.; 13 grandchildren; and two beloved aunts, Nell Bennett and Jeannette Smith of Sunny View, N.C.

Funeral services will be held at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Tryon, N.C. at 3 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. Burial will be in the Columbus Baptist Church cemetery in Columbus, N.C.

Memorials may be made to the Priest’s Discretionary Fund at Holy Cross Episcopal Church, 150 Melrose Avenue, Tryon, N.C 28782 or at St. Matthews Episcopal Church, 210 St. Mary’s Road, Hillsborough, N.C. 27278.

An online guest register is available at

McFarland Funeral Chapel, Tryon.