The History of Williams Funeral Directors
Williams Funeral Directors was founded in 1885 as M. D. Williams Furniture and Coffins. Marion Davis Williams and his brother, Jasper Williams, emigrated from Lebanon County, Tennessee to Dallas County, Texas in the mid 1870's. They traveled by horseback and settled near the communities of Embree and Duck Creek. Several years passed before the rest of M. D. ís family joined the brothers, including their parents, Marlin G. and Sarah Ann (Holt) Williams. After becoming a successful farmer and rancher, in 1885 M. D. and Jasper formed three small businesses in Duck Creek; a dry goods store, a grocery store, and a furniture and coffin store in which their father, Marlin G. Williams, who was a cabinet maker, worked.
The Williamsí businesses offered a variety of necessities for the farming community including groceries, dry goods, John Deere horse-drawn farm equipment, John Deere buggies, furniture, and funeral merchandise, including coffins. In 1889, their store was among those hit by a disastrous fire, which destroyed much of the downtown area. The determined brothers soon rebuilt, and their business and continued to prosper.
The town of Garland was formed in 1891, and M. D. Williams was elected as Garland's first Mayor, a post that he would hold on several occasions during his lifetime.
During the Civil War, Edward Hunter, M. D., invented the "modern" practice of embalming. M. D. Williams educated himself in the procedure, and over the course of time was called upon more frequently as a funeral provider than a retailer. He purchased a horse drawn hearse and began funeral service as his primary career. The dry goods portion of the business was sold to A. M. Baker in the early 1900ís. Bakerís Furniture still occupies the same downtown square location today.
M. D. ís son, D. Cecil Williams, purchased the business from his father in 1931, and constructed a new facility just two blocks away at 716 Main Street. This building, dedicated solely to funeral service, was one of the first (if not the first) of its kind in Texas.
Under D. Cecilís guidance, the business began to diversify. Williams Ambulance Service was formed with the first motorized ambulance in Dallas County. Williams Ambulance continued to provide emergency ambulance service and was the areaís only ambulance service until 1975.
Cecilís son, Marion D. Williams, III, purchased the business from his father in 1970, incorporated as Marion D. Williams, Inc., and adopted the business name Williams Funeral Directors. Marion completely remodeled the existing structure, which doubled the size of the facility. Under his stewardship, the company continued to grow.
Marion, with his father and other community leaders, also founded the Garland Ė Mills Cemetery Foundation in 1959. This not-for-profit foundation operates and cares for the Garland Memorial Park and Mills Cemeteries, which had been abandoned by their original developers.
Cecilís daughter, Dorothy Ruth Williams Woods, was associated with the business many years, becoming one of the first licensed female embalmers in the State of Texas after her graduation from the Dallas School of Embalming. She continued until her daughter was born in 1947. Dorothy was a graduate of Garland High School, the Oleta Hockaday Girls School, Texas Christian University, and the Dallas School of Embalming.
Marion's sons, M. D. Williams, IV; D. Cecil Williams, II; and J. Kyle Williams joined the company over time, and each worked many years earning their way into the management of the company.
On June 17, 1999, M. D. Williams, IV passed away. Cecil and Kyle currently serve as company officers. On July 14, 2008, Marion D. Williams III passed away. D. Cecil Williams II currently serves as President and, J. Kyle Williams serves as Vice-President. Justin D. Williams serves as treasurer and D. Craig Williams serves as secretary.
Currently, M.D. Williams IV's son, D. Craig Williams, and D. Cecil Williams II's son, Justin D. Williams, and daughters, Whitney L. Williams and Alexandra C. Williams are working as the fifth generation in Williams' 127-year-old family business.