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James Whitfield Williamson

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James Whitfield Williamson
Caddo Parish Commissioner for District 1
In office
Preceded byRoy M. Hopkins
Succeeded byJohn D. Reid
Mayor of Vivian, Louisiana, USA
In office
Preceded byJimmy Wilson
Succeeded byRichard John "Rick" McMillan, II
Mayor of Vivian (interim)
In office
Preceded byRaymond Lee
Succeeded byHayward D. McCormick
Personal details
Born(1925-06-12)June 12, 1925
Belcher, Caddo Parish
DiedNovember 15, 2008(2008-11-15) (aged 83)
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Helen Hale Williamson (married 1949–his death)
ChildrenNo children
OccupationBusinessman; Politician
(1) In 1998, twelve years after he had vacated the position of mayor of Vivian, Louisiana, after a 14-year stint ended by electoral defeat, Williamson was called back as the interim mayor after a resignation.

(2) Williamson's father, Earl Williamson, served as Vivian mayor for three nonconsecutive terms between 1938 and 1966. His brother, Don W. Williamson, served a term in the Louisiana House of Representatives and two terms in the State Senate between 1968 and 1980.

(3) Earl Williamson served forty years on the Caddo Parish Police Jury, later renamed the Caddo Parish Commission. Williamson himself served a single four-year term on the parish governing council, having lost in his bid for a second term.

James Whitfield Williamson (June 12, 1925 – November 15, 2008) was a businessman and politician from north Caddo Parish in northwestern Louisiana, the scion of a prominent political family. He was the mayor of the town of Vivian from 1972 to 1986, a Vivian Town Council member from 1958 to 1972, and a one-term member of the Caddo Parish Commission from 1988 to 1992, all elected positions also previously held by his father, Earl Guyton Williamson, Sr. (1903–1992).

Early years, family, military, business[edit]

Williamson was born in Belcher in Caddo Parish to Earl Williamson and the former Mamie Greer (1904-1948), both Mississippi natives. He graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, having majored in speech and attended on a tennis scholarship. An avid sportsman, Williamson in 1987, at the age of sixty-two, won a silver medal in tennis at the Louisiana State Senior's Tournament.[1] During World War II, he was a scout and sniper in the United States Marine Corps, Second Battalion in the South Pacific. He participated in the invasions of the islands of Guam and Iwo Jima and secured a Battlefield Commendation.[1]

With his brother, Earl G. Williamson, Jr. (1923-2015), James Williamson owned Williamson Motors, a General Motors dealership that operated in Vivian for sixty-five years.[2] James Williamson was a former member of the board of Citizen's Bank and Trust Company and a past president of the Vivian Lions International. He was the commander of the local American Legion and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Kiwanis International, and the Monterey Country Club. He was a deacon of the First Baptist Church of Vivian, where he also taught the men's Bible class over an extended period of time.[1]

Political campaigns[edit]

In 1972, James Williamson succeeded Jimmy Wilson as mayor after Wilson was elected to the Louisiana House of Representatives. During his mayoral tenure, Williamson served as vice-president of the Louisiana Municipal Association. In 1986, Williamson was unseated for a fourth full term by the Republican construction businessman, Richard John "Rick" McMillan. II (born February 1951). McMillan was reelected in 1990 with 58 percent of the vote[3] and was unopposed in 1994. Midway in his third term, McMillan resigned and was succeeded by fellow Republican Raymond L. Lee (born September 30, 1935), who polled 62 percent of the ballots in a special election held on April 5, 1997. Lee later moved to Blanchard, another community in Caddo Parish.[4] When Lee resigned after a year in the position, the town council called Willamson to serve as interim mayor for a number of months. Like his father, who was tied politically to the Earl Long faction in Louisiana politics, Williamson was a Democrat. Two other brothers who went into politics, Don W. Williamson and Tedford Williamson, however, are Republicans.[5]

A year after Williamson lost his 1986 race for mayor, he ran for the Caddo Parish Commission (created in 1984) for the District 1 seat vacated by his fellow Democrat Roy M. Hopkins, who was elected to succeed the Republican Bruce Lynn in the Louisiana House of Representatives. Williamson prevailed in a runoff with fellow Democrat Charles H. Caldwell, 1,535 votes (53.9 percent) to 1,314 (46.1 percent). In the primary on October 24, Williamson and Caldwell had nearly tied, and the Republican, Robert Chamberlain, was eliminated from contention.[6] Williamson was unseated as commissioner after a single term in the general election held on November 16, 1991 by his fellow Democrat John David "Johnny" Reid (born September 1951) of Vivian. Williamson polled 3,018 votes (46.3 percent) to Reid's 3,500 ballots (53.7) in the same election in which Edwin Washington Edwards defeated David Duke for governor.[7]


Williamson died at the age of eighty-three at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport. He was survived by his wife of fifty-nine years, the former Helen Hale (born 1929). The couple had no children. Other survivors included five brothers, Earl, Jr., and wife Alice (died 2013) of Vivian; former Louisiana State Senator Don W. Williamson and his second wife, Rachel, of Shreveport; David Williamson and wife Darlene of Orange, Florida (since David and wife Nancy of Brownsburg in Hendricks County, Indiana); Clayton Williamson and wife Elizabeth (since wife Nette) of Montgomery, Texas, and Ted Williamson and wife Connie of Round Rock, Texas, subsequently from Salado, Texas; a sister, Jean Williamson Bright and husband, Delbert Bright, of Longview, Texas.[1][2][8]

James W. Williamson grave in Vivian, Louisiana

Services were held on November 18, 2008, at the First Baptist Church of Vivian. He is interred at Vivian Cemetery. Former Mayor Rick McMillan, Williamson's former political rival, was among the pallbearers.[1]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 James Williamson obituary, The Shreveport Times, November 17, 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Earl Guyton Williamson, Jr". The Shreveport Times. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  3. "Election Results: Caddo Parish". Louisiana Secretary of State. October 6, 1990. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  4. "Election Results: Caddo Parish". Louisiana Secretary of State. April 5, 1997. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  5. Billy Hathorn, "The Williamsons of Caddo Parish: A Political 'Mini-Dynasty;", North Louisiana History, Winter 2008, pp. 25–43
  6. "Election Results: Caddo Parish". Louisiana Secretary of State. November 21, 1987. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  7. "Election Results: Caddo Parish". Louisiana Secretary of State. November 16, 1991. Retrieved April 26, 2015.
  8. James Whitfield Williamson (June 12, 1925 - November 15, 2008)
Preceded by
Jimmy Wilson
Mayor of Vivian, Louisiana

James Whitfield Williamson

Succeeded by
Richard John "Rick" McMillan, II
Preceded by
Raymond L. Lee
Mayor of Vivian, Louisiana

James Whitfield Williamson

Succeeded by
Hayward D. McCormick
Preceded by
Roy M. Hopkins
Caddo Parish Commissioner

James Whitfield Williamson

Succeeded by
John D. Reid

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