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"Williams, man of many firsts": newspaper clipping from the Las Vegas Sentinel Voice






Obituary for Monroe Williams in the October 25, 2012 edition of Las Vegas Sentinel Voice.

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ohr000203. Monroe Williams oral history interview , 2000 August 15 and 2000 August 22. OH-01992. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Williams, man of many firsts Special to Sentinel-Voice Monroe Williams, a longtime resident, pioneering civil servant and businessman, passed away peacefully at age 72 on Saturday, October 20, according to his wife and their son, who were at his side. He was born December 14, 1939, in Vicksburg, Miss., and relocated to Las Vegas as a child. He attended the historic Westside School in 1945 and Madison Elementary later. After graduating from Las Vegas High School in 1958, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a physician's assistant at the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif. Following an honorable discharge, he returned to Las Vegas and worked at Ranch Market as a grocery checker and butcher. Noted as a workplace pioneer, he became one of the two first Black firefighters hired by the City of Las Vegas Fire Department in 1963. He achieved the rank of fire captain in 1982, a position that capped a stellar career and one that he held until his retirement in 1988. He was a member of the Las Vegas United Firefighters of Southern Nevada and an honorary member of the Professional Black MONROE WILLIAMS Firefighters of Clark County. He served on the Clark County Democratic Central Committee and was involved in the successful election of several party candidates. An active advocate for civic improvement, he served on many boards and professional committees, including as an advisory council member the Clark County School District Integration Committee and as a board member of Operation Independence, now known as the Economic Opportunity Board or EOB. He was a charter member of the Sara Allen Credit Union and a member of the Westside School Alumni Foundation. In 1968, he achieved another pioneering first when he became one of only four Black Realtors in Nevada. Shortly thereafter, he obtained his real estate broker's license and became a certified property manager and certified appraiser for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He had a successful career in real estate, spanning more than 40 years, culminating in his becoming an officer in the National Association of Realtors. The Williams/Walker Educational Scholarship for (See Williams, Page 3) Williams (Continued from Page 1) academic advancement is named in his honor. His memorial tributes will undoubtedly be rich with countless accolades about his character and dedication. "His service to the community was unwavering," said writer-historian Faye Duncan-Daniel, a longtime Las Vegan, who was a volunteer supporter of the Black firefighters organization before retiring and relocating. "Monroe was the ideal colleague, the ideal mentor and, for me, just a paragon to humanity. He encapsulated and embodied all the [highest of ethics and best of all religious] principles... to live and let live, to love and let love. He was consistent. It wasn't just a point-of-view; it was a way of life for him," she commented by phone. She recalled the challenges he faced breaking the color-barriers in early, segregated Las Vegas: "I remember that [Whites-only] era, but you would not know that Monroe was going through [the difficulties that] he was... We [Blacks] had to go into those areas and not only perform our jobs, but also hold up the banner for the generations to come along, but [he] never talked about it... that's just what [a pioneer] did... to get the better income jobs, to take care of his family." He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Brenda J. Williams, and their three children — Tanya L. Williams, Kenneth M. Williams Sr. and Jolene R. Williams— and his son, Derrick D. Harvey; grandsons Kenneth Williams Jr. and Jalen A. Broadnax; great granddaughters Keniya A. Williams and Maiia Williams; and a host of other relatives, along with many friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Noah and Ernestine, and his sister and brother, Hurtisene and Noah. Visitation is this Friday from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Palm Mortuary, located at 1325 N. Main St., just north of downtown. Funeral services will be held Saturday morning at 11:00 at Second Baptist Church, located at 500 W. Madison Ave.