Encyclopedia Titanica


Philadelphia Inquirer

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Richard Norris Williams, 2nd, a First World War hero, an international tennis champion and a historian, died Sunday in Bryn Mawr Hospital. He was 77 and lived at 10 Welwyn Rd., Wayne.
Mr. Williams, a former banker, served as director and librarian of the Pennsylvania Historical Society for 22 years until his retirement in 1965.
Born in Geneva, Switzerland, he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Duane Williams and the great-great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. His mother was the former Lydia Biddle White.
When he was 18 he accompanied his father to the United States on the ill-fated Titanic on which the elder Mr. Williams lost his life.


The young man proved himself a hero, helping others into lifeboats. He swam away from the ship as it sank and remained in the icy waters for hours clinging to a half-submerged life raft until he was picked up by the Carpathia.
Doctors aboard the liner wanted to amputate his nearly frozen legs but he refused. he went on to win the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor in the First World War and many tennis championships.
Mr. Williams was one of the earliest elected to the Tennis Hall of Fame in the sports shrine established in Newport, R.I. He won two national singles championships, two national doubles championships and the Wimbledon double championship.


He played on seven winning U.S. Davis Cup Teams and was captain from 1921 to 1927 and again in 1934. He was awarded the Olympic Gold Medal for Tennis in 1924.
Mr. Williams was educated in France and Switzerland and was graduated from Harvard University in 1916. He spoke fluent French and German and was a front line liaison officer in the First World War for the French and American troops.
He was a member of the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Historical Commission and was awarded an honorary doctorate of letters at Dickinson College in 1951.


Mr. Williams was a member of the Philadelphia Club, the Gulph Mills Golf Club and the Ausable Club in St. Hubert's, N.Y. He had honorary memberships in the Franklin Inn; Merion Cricket Club; West Side Tennis Club; Forest Hill, N.Y.; Longwood Cricket Club; Brookline, Mass.; Seabright Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club; the All England Club at Wimbledon; the Queens Club, London; and the International Lawn Tennis Club.
Surviving are his wife, the former Frances Sue W. Gillmore; three sons, Duane N.; Richard N., 3rd; and Quincy N.; a daughter, Mrs. Frances Sue W. Ganoe; and 11 grandchildren. Funeral service will be held at 4 P.M. Wednesday in Old St. David's Church, Wayne.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2003) R.N. WILLIAMS, DIES; TENNIS ACE, HISTORIAN (Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday 4th June 1968, ref: #321, published 28 August 2003, generated 10th August 2022 05:21:02 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/item-321.html