James Whitfield Williamson
|James Whitfield Williamson|
Mayor of Vivian, Louisiana
|Preceded by||Roy McArthur Hopkins|
|Succeeded by||John David "Johnny" Reid|
|Assumed office |
|Preceded by||Raymond L. Lee|
Member of the Caddo Parish
|Born|| June 12, 1925|
Belcher, Caddo Parish
|Died|| November 15, 2008 (aged 83)|
|Spouse(s)||Helen Hale Williamson (married 1949-2008, his death)|
James Whitfield Williamson (June 12, 1925 - November 15, 2008) was a businessman and politician from north Caddo Parish in northwestern Louisiana, the scion of a prominent political family. He was the mayor of the town of Vivian from 1972 to 1986, a Vivian Town Council member from 1958 to 1972, and a one-term member of the Caddo Parish Commission from 1988 to 1992, all elected positions also previously held by his father, Earl Guyton Williamson, Sr.
Williamson was born in Belcher in Caddo Parish to Earl Williamson and the former Mamie Greer (1904-1948), both Mississippi natives. He graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, at which he majored in speech and attended on a tennis scholarship. An avid sportsman, Williamson in 1987, at the age of sixty-two, won a silver medal in tennis at the Louisiana State Senior's Tournament.
In World War II, Williamson was a scout and sniper in the United States Marine Corps, Second Battalion, stationed in the South Pacific. He participated in the invasions of the islands of Guam and Iwo Jima and secured a Battlefield Commendation. He was a member of the board of Citizen's Bank and Trust Company and a past president of the Vivian Lions International. He was the commander of the local American Legion and a member of Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Kiwanis International, and the Monterey Country Club. He was a deacon of the First Baptist Church of Vivian, at which he taught the men's Bible class over an extended period of time.
Midway in his term as mayor of Vivian, Republican Rick McMillan resigned and was succeeded by a fellow Republican, Raymond L. Lee (born September 30, 1935), who polled 62 percent of the ballots in a special election held on April 5, 1997. When Lee resigned after a year in the position, the town council called Willamson to serve as interim mayor for a number of months. Like his father, James Williamson was tied politically to the Earl Long faction in Louisiana politics, Williamson was a Democrat. Two other brothers who went into politics, Don W. Williamson and Tedford Williamson, however, are Republicans.
A year after Williamson lost the 1986 race for mayor, he ran for the Caddo Parish Commission (formerly the Caddo Parish Police Jury; created in 1984) for the District 1 seat vacated by his fellow Democrat Roy McArthur Hopkins (1943-2006), who was elected to succeed the Republican Bruce Newton Lynn, I (1925-2016) in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Williamson prevailed in a runoff with fellow Democrat Charles H. Caldwell, 1,535 votes (53.9 percent) to 1,314 (46.1 percent). In the primary on October 24, Williamson and Caldwell had nearly tied, and the Republican, Robert Chamberlain, was eliminated from contention. Williamson was unseated as commissioner after a single term in the general election held on November 16, 1991 by his fellow Democrat John David "Johnny" Reid (born September 1951) of Vivian. Williamson polled 3,018 votes (46.3 percent) to Reid's 3,500 ballots (53.7) in the same election in which Edwin Edwards defeated David Duke for governor.
Williamson died at the age of eighty-three at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport. He was survived by his wife of fifty-nine years, the former Helen Hale (born 1929). The couple had no children. Other survivors included five brothers, Earl, Jr., and wife Alice (died 2013) of Vivian; former Louisiana State Senator Don W. Williamson and his second wife, Rachel, of Shreveport; David Williamson and wife Darlene of Orange, Florida (since David and wife Nancy of Brownsburg in Hendricks County, Indiana); Clayton Williamson and wife Elizabeth (since wife Nette) of Montgomery, Texas, and Tedford F. Williamson and wife, Connie, of Round Rock and thereafter Salado, Texas; a sister, Jean Williamson Bright and husband, Delbert Bright, of Longview, Texas. Services were held on November 18, 2008, at the First Baptist Church of Vivian. He is interred at Vivian Cemetery. Former Mayor Rick McMillan, Williamson's former political rival, was among the pallbearers.