Obituary: A.C. Williams

[Source: Prescott Daily Courier]

A.C. Williams passed away at his home of 53 years in Prescott, Ariz., on Aug. 31, 2010, after dealing with diabetes and heart problems for several years.

Archie Crouch was born on May 16, 1925, to Archie Andrew and Lizzie (Crouch) Williams in the west Phoenix, Ariz., valley. A.C. was the second child and oldest son of the family. He was born in a house surrounded by cotton fields and was always proud of being a native Arizonan. A.C. spent his early life, during the Depression, working alongside his family on their farm in Gilbert and Chandler.

He would gladly tell stories of how he and his brother, Gerald, would milk cows on their dairy farm before sunrise and going to school. He excelled at school and developed a consuming passion for sports, reading the sports pages of the newspaper, and listening to games on a radio that he hooked up in the milk barn.

A.C. spent many hours riding horses with Gerald and his cousin, Denton Little, across Pinal County between, what is now the Sun Lakes area and the Williams farm southeast of Chandler.

A.C. participated in all the sports teams while in high school, playing basketball, football and baseball, and particularly excelling in track. Upon graduation from high school in 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as a Medical Corpsman in Memphis, Tenn., Atlanta, Ga., and Norman, Okla., mostly working in the clinics and driving an ambulance on the airfields. A.C. was not sent overseas due to his being colorblind, but was always proud of the service he rendered to his country.

A.C. was married to Glendell Gobbel on Christmas Eve of 1945 after hitchhiking from his duty station in Oklahoma to Tempe, Ariz., where the wedding took place. The newlyweds made their first home in Atlanta.

He attended what was then called Arizona State’s Teacher College in Flagstaff and graduated in a record two years, with a degree in political science and history, with a minor in physical education and recreation. While there, he worked at a local motel doing any job he could find to support his young family. A.C. got a teaching job at the new Flowing Wells High School, on the outskirts of Tucson, where farms still bordered the school grounds. He literally laid out the first ball fields at the school. Any and all sports at the school, A.C. coached it. He worked as the school district recreation supervisor for the Parks and Recreation department in the summers in Tucson.

In 1957, A.C. moved his family to Prescott due to his daughter Vicki’s asthma. He was the new Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Prescott and started from scratch, as he was the only staff member, with a few volunteers who helped with various sports programs. His first office was at City Park, now Ken Lindley, under the old bleachers, complete with leaking water on the cement floors. Prescott was just a small town of about 12,000 people, and building the parks was by far the most important thing to him.

A.C. was most proud of building of the first Roughrider softball diamond near Yavapai College, with no bonds or sales tax dollars. He depended on a lot of community support and volunteer hours to complete it, as there was no money to work with.

His biggest achievement and the one he was proud of accomplishing, was that of promoting fast-pitch softball. A.C. had the philosophy of getting the finest quality of teams and players he could recruit for tournament play. A.C. was able to get teams from all over Arizona and California. There were a lot of good competitive teams in the Prescott area in the 1960s at that time, and was in full swing before 2,000 to 4,000 fans on many weekends at Ken Lindley Park.

A.C. and his small staff of one or two people spent countless hours on the downtown plaza, rigging up PA systems for talent shows and square dances in the summer. He was the one who coordinated anything that needed to be done for any public event in the greater Prescott area. It was a common saying around town, “Get A.C. to take care of that,” and he would always go way beyond the call of duty. He was responsible for the Teen Canteen, which he set up for the local teams in Prescott in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1962 A.C. was appointed to the Arizona State Parks Board by Gov. Paul Fannin, reappointed by subsequent governors, and stayed active until he retired in 1984. He was selected as Man of the Year by the Prescott Chamber of Commerce in 1969 and served as the Arizona State Commissioner for the Amateur Softball Association of America, that same year. A.C. also served on the Governor’s Advisory Sports Council by Gov. Bruce Babbit in 1978 and the Prescott Salvation Army presented him with the Humanitarian of the Year Award in 1979.

Throughout the 1970s he toured Arizona softball teams in New Zealand, South Africa, Netherlands Antilles, Puerto Rico, Australia and the Philippines. He and his wife, Dell, made many close friends in New Zealand and kept in contact with them over the decades.

A.C. knew every inch of Arizona and was proud of his knowledge of little known “forgotten” towns throughout the state. He traveled by every mode of transportation, as a member of the Arizona Parks Board, participating in countless dedication ceremonies at new state monuments or parks, cutting ribbons, shaking hands, standing for photographs with various dignitaries. He even took a ride in a stagecoach into Tombstone, for an event, which he always laughed about.

A.C. spent his retirement years from the Park and Recreation office, doing what he loved best, that of being the Regional Director for six states in the Rocky Mountain region and was on the Executive Board for the Amateur Softball Association. His devotion to the development and promotion of softball was boundless. He always loved seeing the kids, especially, take up the sport and succeed. A.C. could name the old-time softball players from the 1930s and 1940s with ease. He was proud of the fact that his great granddaughter, Allyson Jacobson, is active in girls’ softball and obviously loves the sport as much as he did.

A.C.’s footprint is seen everywhere in Prescott and Arizona. His is a lasting legacy that will always be seen in the ballparks, parks and monuments throughout the state, and in the people who knew him.

Survivors include his loving wife, Glendell; and their children, Linda (Phillip Murray) Cates, Vicki Mastriani and Byron Williams. Seven grandchildren include Robyn (Brian) Jacobson, Glenn (Nilda) Cates, Aaron and Todd (Hannah) Mastriani, and Nate, Luke and Tyler Williams. Five great-grandchildren include Allyson and Jared Jacobson, Hailey and Dawson Mastriani, and Scarlett Cates, with a new great grandson due in October. He also leaves a sister, Jo Stricker, of Colorado and numerous nieces, nephews and family members. He was predeceased by his sister June Beck and brother, Gerald Williams, as well as his parents.

Services will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 at the Grace Sparkes Memorial Activity Center (Armory Building) at 824 E. Gurley St., Prescott. Visitation is scheduled from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3 at Hampton Funeral Home, 240 S. Cortez St., Prescott. Family suggests memorials be made to Arizona ASA, P.O. Box 1850, Prescott, AZ 86302.

Hampton Funeral Home was entrusted with the arrangements.

Please visit to sign A.C.’s guestbook.

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