Erven Williams’ Memorial and Celebration of Life

With great sadness, we share that Erven Williams passed away on December 31, 2022. Erven was the beloved husband of Elnora Williams and father of Elandria (deceased) and Frederick Williams. Erven was a long-time member of TVUUC, joining on May 29, 1991. Erven was involved in several TVUUC groups, but many will best remember him singing in the Sanctuary Choir.

(You can watch the service streamed at 2 pm, Saturday January 14th on our Facebook page https://tinyurl.com/yfx9pnx6, or our website https://tvuuc.org/ and also on our YouTube channel https://tinyurl.com/ycksxc98.)

Erven’s Obituary

Erven N. Williams was born February 28,1945 in Molino, Florida. Son of Ophelia and Fred Williams, he was the eldest in the family of two brothers and one sister. Erven loved growing up in a big, close family. He often spoke of the love he had for his family and his experiences visiting them in Cedartown, Florida. Erven could always joyously reflect on the teachers in the church, especially his favorite elementary teacher, Ms. Acklin of Pensacola. He always said, “We who grew up in the 40’s and 50’s could really relate to our teachers because we were all together, living in the same neighborhood, and attending the same churches and schools.”

Erven was proud to be a “Pensacolian.” His dad, Fred, uncles, Arthur & Alton, and brother, LeVoyd, all served in the military. His mother, Ophelia, served at a local elementary school and was a wonderful cuisine cook and baker. The Williams family was known for valuing education; two of his uncles (Alton & Grady) were math instructors and married teachers, his sister (Deborah) was a culinary teacher, his brother (Gerald) was Chief Counsel to the School Board of Palm Beach County, his brother (LeVoyd) taught after retiring from Southern Bell, and his beloved wife (Elnora) was a principal and teacher at Knox County Schools. In the family, Erven was known as the Math Genius. He would host math tutoring sessions before school and play saxophone in the band after school.

Erven is a 1962 graduate with honors from Booker T. Washington Senior High School in Pensacola, Florida. He has a BS degree in Economics from Tuskegee University in Alabama. At Tuskegee, he served as the Senior Class President, Secretary for the Dean of Students & Ford Foundation, and Freshmen Orientation teacher. He also has a MS Degree in Industrial Education from the University of TN, Knoxville. He enjoyed teaching computer operations to college and high school students and Water Safety to elementary & middle schools throughout East Tennessee. He was especially proud of working with the Upward Bound program at Knoxville College and giving a commencement speech at Draughons Community College Spring of 1986.

Erven served in the US Air Force for four years and was deployed to Viet Nam and Thailand. Erven was a recipient of the Strategic Air Command’s Outstanding Administrative Services Airman Manager of 1965 by the 456th Combat Support Group. Erven moved to Knoxville from Tuskegee, Alabama in 1972 to work at Tennessee Valley Authority and raise twins. Erven also received the Outstanding Quality Leadership Award 1994-1996 and was named to be a TN Quality Award Examiner in1999. He advanced with TVA utilizing his many talents as an Economist Technology wizard and specialist. He served many years as Project Manager and his call to fame is being the designer of the TVA Dam’s Warning system. He retired from TVA after thirty- six years and then started a second career working as a BVI/FEMA Specialist in damage control, following tornados and hurricanes.

Erven Williams is an extraordinary man who leaves a tremendous legacy. At the age of fifteen, he was a member of the Youth Counsel of NAACP and participated in the sit-ins at the Woolworth Lunch counters and other eateries of downtown Pensacola, Florida in the 60’s. Encouraged by his father, Fred Williams, Erven participated in the Civil Rights movement at a young age because any adults found participating would lose their jobs. So, the youth were often the “brave, young foot soldiers united hand in hand.” There is a commemorated street sign placed in their honor on the corner of Garden and Palafox Street in Pensacola, FL.

Erven was a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Pensacola and the chief planner for the elimination of the mortgage of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Knoxville. He was an active member of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church where he enjoyed singing in the Choir, serving on the board and other numerous volunteer activities (Music Search Committee, Minister’s Internship Committee, Endowment & Finance Committees). He felt it was important to stay busy and give his time to many community activities: Beck Cultural Center, 100 Black Men (1yr), Jack & Jill Inc. parent supporter, United Way, Great School Partnerships with TVA, Toast Masters, and UT Cuisine Cooking & Photography. He loved serving as a guide for Vol Norris Visitor Center, chef for Knox County Volunteer Food Ministry, singer with the Heart Sing Choir of TN Alzheimer’s, and performer playing saxophone with the Geezer band of the John O’Conner Senior Center. Everyone who knows the Williams family acknowledges their passion for the UT VOL Traveling and Fan Club as they avidly visited all sporting events and was recognized in the 2013 Donor Spotlight Football Playbook.

Erven Williams was devoted to his wife, Elnora Childs Williams, for fifty-four years and friends for sixty-six years. They met in the seventh grade. Erven was a happy father of twins, Elandria (deceased) and Frederick Williams. He is the grandfather of three grandchildren (Shawn, Nevyn, Niyah). Erven had two brothers Levoyd (Beverly) Williams of Lauderdale Lakes, Florida and Gerald (deceased) (Carolyn) Williams of West Palm Beach Florida, one sister Deborah (Thomas) Mobley of Miami, Florida, and sister-in laws Barbara (Greg) Thompson of Sheffield, AL and Carole (Reginald, deceased) Reese of Pensacola, FL. Erven’s memory will be cherished by many loved nieces, nephews, cousins, and a large extended family and host of loving friends.

Erven led a life well lived and he will be remembered for his joy, loving heart, and personal attention given to the needs of so many.

Visitation of Family & Friends:

Friday. January 13, 2023, 5:30 pm-7:00pm

Jarnigan & Son Mortuary

2823 Martin Luther King Jr Ave. Knoxville, TN 37914,865-524-5575

Memorial Service:

Saturday, January 14, 2023, 2pm

TN Valley Unitarian Universalist Church

2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919, 865-523-4176

In lieu of appreciated flowers make contributions to the following:

The Beck Cultural Center Delaney Museum

1927 Dandridge Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37915,865-524-8461

The Bottom

2340 East Magnolia Ave. Knoxville, TN 37917, 865-444-5915

The 

We will certainly miss seeing Erven’s kind and smiling face singing in the church choir. We hold Elnora, Frederick and the William’s family, and our memories of Erven, in love and light.

A companion email will be sent containing more information on providing food for the Memorial Reception on Saturday or you can sign up using this link: Sign-up for the Memorial Reception