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Posted on September 18, 2011 | 4:04 p.m.

C.K. Williams, 1923-2011

Successful Texas businessman was an accomplished artist in his Montecito retirement

Source: Williams Family

Claude Kress “C.K.” Williams died peacefully at his home at Birnam Wood Golf Club in Montecito on September 7, 2011. He was 88.

C.K. Williams
C.K. Williams

Born in New York City on April 9, 1923, C.K. was a graduate of St. Bernard’s School in Manhattan, St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., and Princeton University.

He served for three years in the Army during World War II and later as a second lieutenant during the Korean War.

In 1948, C.K. moved to Houston and later founded Williams Brothers Construction Co., which played a critical role in the building of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. When he retired in 1985, Williams Brothers was the seventh-largest highway construction company in the United States and, today, under the direction of his longtime partner, Doug Pitcock Jr., it is the largest in Texas.

In addition to running a successful business, C.K. enjoyed a flourishing career as an artist, with many popular one-man shows and a large group of collectors. His paintings reflect his exuberance for life as well as a skilled technique developed over many years of experimentation. He continued to paint until the end, leaving three canvases waiting to be finished.

“You know,” he said, “every morning when I get up I think that I might paint the best picture of my life.”

C.K. is survived by his wife of 22 years, Mary Elting Church Williams; a son, Claude Kress Williams Jr.; a daughter, Cynthia Williams Collins, and a son-in-law, Atwood Collins III; two grandchildren, Atwood Porter Collins and Dwight Mallory Collins; and three great-grandchildren.

The burial service in New Paltz, New York, will be private. Celebrations of his life will be held at a later date in Montecito and in Houston.

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