Yale '62 - Obituaries - Thomas F. Williamson, Jr.

Thomas F. Williamson, Jr.

Born: August 29, 1940
Died: April 25, 2003

Tom Williamson was born in Pennsylvania, son of Thomas F. Williamson, a naval officer killed in the submarine service during World War Two, and Mrs. James "Jamie" Blackburn, now of Williamsburg, Virginia. Tom came to Yale from Randolph Macon Academy, Front Royal, Virginia.

Tom was a member of Branford College, active with NROTC and a member of the Political Union.

After graduation, Tom was on active duty in the Navy for four years. His service on destroyers included a tour of duty on the Moale in the Mediterranean when classmate Tom Parker was a shipmate. Tom supplied information for Parker's obituary and described their service together: "We had a great time successfully defending the Mediterranean and doing what young lieutenants do in the great liberty ports of Europe."

In his colorful and frank biography in our 40th Class Book, Time and Change, Tom lamented his tendency to get seasick but concluded that "other than the sea sicknesses, the Navy experience was mostly positive ... and made me hungry for academic life again." Tom returned to Washington and commenced George Washington Law School while also working as a project manager for TRW. He obtained his law degree in 1968 and embarked on a career in government contracts law "by responding to an ad on the law school bulletin board."

In 1970 he commenced a ten year career with the U. S. Government, first on the legal staff of the Commission on Government Procurement, then as Assistant General Counsel for the General Accounting Office, the watchdog agency for Congress, and finally culminating in appointment as Associate Administrator for Law in the Office for Federal Procurement Policy in the Executive Office of the President during the final years of the Carter Administration.

He remarked in his 2002 bio that: as a result of his government service, "I can subscribe to both Bismark's comments about watching sausage being made and Churchill's about democracy being the best of bad choices."

After leaving government service Tom joined the law firm of Morgan Lewis & Bockius and rose to head the firm's Government Contracts practice department. He was a recognized expert on the law of government contracting and the author of numerous publications including "Government Commercial Sales Handbook", a deskbook for practitioners, plus many law review articles. But among his colleagues he was as well known also for his cheerfulness and impish humor and his selfless mentoring of younger lawyers.

While in law school, Tom met and married Bonnie June Lange, a graduate of Florida State, who was then employed by the National Security Agency as a Russian analyst. Together they raised two children. Son Tyler now 32 is a graduate of the Forestry School at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and is a forester with the U. S. Forestry Service at Big Stone Gap (Virginia) National Forest. Daughter Robin, now 30, is a Washington & Lee University graduate with a law degree from Samford Law School of Birmingham, Alabama. She is practicing immigration law in Washington.

Bonnie returned to work after the children grew and had been employed in the court appointed special advocate program in Fairfax, Virginia as supervisor of volunteers for counseling of abused and neglected children but had retired from this position prior to Tom's untimely death from a heart attack on April 25, 2003, while at his office.

After Yale, Tom pursued with gusto and his characteristic good humor a variety of hobbies, including horses, woodworking, tiling, sampling good restaurants, kayaking, poodles and most recently his newfound addiction for golf beginning in 1997 which he shared with Bonnie. He was an enthusiastic collector of all manner of the latest electronic gadgets. Tom and Bonnie also had become devoted to the North Carolina coast and purchased vacation property on the Atlantic near Elizabeth City.

In addition to Bonnie, Tyler and Robin, and his mother, Tom was survived by his sister Bonnie Turman of Cupertino, California.

A well attended Memorial Serivce was held on April 30, 2003, which included classmates Ralph Kissick, Tom Chapman and former roommate John Blouch, who supplied information for this obituary. The family requested that memorial contributions be made to the Coastal Wildlife Refuge Society of Manteo, North Carolina.