SYSK: New book shares the life of Church Williams - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

SYSK: New book shares the life of Church Williams


All around Oelwein you can see the generous contributions of Church Williams. But many people don't know the man behind the financial donations. That's why a new book is available.

Church, A Fascinating Journey was written by Andy Cubit, Judy Dreyer, Marilyn Gallo and Jake Blitsch.

"He and his wife Marval were very modest people, and that's why there's new things in this book we didn't even know he was involved in," said Andy Cubit.

Church Williams and a friend came to Oelwein for a business venture, opening the Oelwein State Bank in January 1946.

"He was a wonderful banker and a wonderful person. I wouldn't have known that, and I think that's one of the reasons for the book," said Judy Dreyer.

The community of Oelwein has benefited from many people, but especially from Church Williams.

The book writers said he wasn't afraid to ask people for money for a good cause. He himself was a seed money leader in town.

"If you start from scratch to raise $2 million it's pretty tough. If you have a half million committed, then it's not such a daunting task," said Andy Cubit.

Around 1991, Williams helped start the Northeast Iowa Charitable Foundation. It's a non-profit organization to provide funding to projects in eastern Iowa and scholarships for students.

One of the early projects was the Community Plaza.

Then in 2002, the completion of a new Enrichment Center, which includes the Williams Center for the Arts. and a contribution to a sports complex south of town.

"Without Williams, it would not have been done as well or as quickly," said Cubit.

Church Williams was a war hero -- earning the silver star, a businessman and a philanthropist.

"Any project that needed to be done, he was there to lead," said Cubit.

The impact of Church Williams is far-reaching in the Oelwein area. And even though Church has passed away, the giving isn't over. His charitable trust will help benefit the area for years to come.

Obviously, there much more to the life of Church Williams, which you can read about in the book.

It's available at the Oelwein Public Library. There's no cost, but any donation you make goes to the library.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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