Celebrating an exceptional student leader

Remington Williams being hooded

Barbara Glesner Fines, dean of the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Law, confers a ceremonial commencement hood for Remington Williams.

June 13, 2022

Remington Williams, the student representative to the University of Missouri Board of Curators, was a natural leader and caring human being who accomplished much, driven by a passion for helping others.

Williams died in a car accident June 8 on his way to get some food after a night of studying for the bar exam. He was 25 years old and had just graduated from the University of Missouri - Kansas City (UMKC) School of Law, where he was a member of the Law Review and Honor Court. Williams was also pursuing a master of business administration degree at the University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL), and UM System’s Office of General Counsel had recently extended an offer of a fellowship to him for the summer.

“As a student of not one, but two System universities, Remington was deeply connected to his fellow students and advocated for their interests to the Board of Curators,” University of Missouri President Mun Choi said. “He was committed to advancing the mission of the university and ensuring all students had the opportunity to receive an excellent education and an outstanding experience. His presence made this state, our communities – and each of us – better.”

Williams was appointed as student representative to the Curators by Gov. Mike Parson in July 2020. In this role, Williams served as the students’ voice to the governing body of the University of Missouri System, which includes the University of Missouri, Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), UMKC and UMSL.

Remington Williams

Remington Williams

Filling others’ cups

As much as the limelight shone on him, he always looked to share it freely and widely, friends said.

“He had a natural charisma. There was a magnetism about him,” said Curator Robin Wenneker. “I encourage all of us to do our utmost to live up to the high bar Remington set for kindness, compassion and striving to be our best selves. In doing so we pay tribute to the amazing life Remington led and the amazing life that was ahead of him.”

Claire Shipp, a 2022 graduate of Mizzou, served as executive director of the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, the student-led organization that advocates for student interests at the state level.

“We were really the only two people with system-wide student leadership roles, and we bonded over that. But we also became great friends outside of that,” Shipp said. “He was so well put together, so intelligent, but still a real human being. He made sure that everyone was comfortable in whatever spaces he was in.”

Shipp said Williams took his responsibilities as a student leader very seriously,

“He cared about the people that he was in the trenches for. He carried the burdens of all those 75,000 students, but he would overcome those challenges with such grace and still maintain a fun-loving attitude,” she said. “He was the person I would go to, to fill my cup back up and find hope.”

A history of leadership

Williams had a lifelong history of taking on leadership roles and taking personal responsibility for making a difference in people’s lives. His mother, Collette Jones, recalls his resolve at the age of about 10 to help turn around the life of a homeless man he encountered on a church mission trip.

Their church youth group would make sandwiches and take them to encampments of homeless people. On one visit, a man known as “Sonny” ran away in fear when the church group stopped by.

Young Remington took off after him.

“Sonny told me later that he finally stopped and turned around, and when he looked into Remy’s eyes, he knew Remy was safe,” Jones said. Sonny stopped, they talked, and that launched a three-year effort by Williams and his family to get Sonny off the streets and into an apartment. Sonny has remained housed ever since, paying rent with Social Security and pension payments that Williams helped him obtain and volunteering on homeless outreach by the Salvation Army. He remains a close friend of the Williams family.

Remington Williams’s father, Marty Williams, was his baseball coach and helped ignite Remington’s lifelong love for sports. Marty Williams also guided his son’s path to becoming an Eagle Scout.

Williams’ passion for sports led to an autograph-seeking hobby that he pursued with typical zeal. It eventually evolved into a profitable online business selling autographs to other collectors.

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and Spanish from Georgetown College in Kentucky in 2019. At Georgetown, he served as student body president (2017-2018), president of his fraternity (2018-2019) and vice president of the Georgetown Activities Council (2018-2019). Williams also served in various capacities for the men’s basketball team and was an active member of both the Accountability Board and Honor Council.

Each year’s graduating class at Georgetown elects one of their own to be commencement speaker. The class of 2019 chose Williams.

He was also a proud graduate of the National Leadership Conference in Shelby, Michigan.

Curator Michael A. Williams, an attorney, knew Remington Williams as both a student representative and as an aspiring law student. “Remington was the most dedicated and focused young man I have ever met,” Michael Williams said. “Whenever he was talking to someone, he would make them feel like they were the only person in the room. It was awesome to see someone working so hard, trying to be the best that they could be, and still be committed to helping other people be the best that they could be as well.”

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