Joe Williams looked comfortable sitting in the dugout at the Sammy and Onita Cox Baseball Field at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Dugout dedicated - Joe Williams, at right, poses with Chancellor Meadors and his brother, Jack.
"I pitched, played third base and sat on the bench too," Williams said.
The Joe Williams Dugout was named for the man who played in the 1955 season. A Laurel Hill, N.C., native who is retired and living in Titusville, Fla., Williams contributed $12,500 to the First and Ten Campaign for Football and Athletic Excellence for the naming rights.
Williams said he made the donation in honor of Dr. Herbert “Hub” Oxendine, a man he admired. Dr. Oxendine was responsible for bringing him to the Pembroke campus.
Chancellor Allen C. Meadors thanked Williams for remembering the University.
“The support of alumni like Joe Williams is critical to our football program and other athletic programs of the University,” Chancellor Meadors said. “On behalf of the University, I would like to thank him for this gift.”
Williams graduated from Laurel Hill High School and came to Pembroke State College in the summer of 1954. He has great memories of a school that had fewer than 200 students.
“You knew everybody on campus,’ he said. “I was one of the first white students here.”
With a small athletic scholarship, Williams cleaned bathrooms for $10 a week and worked in the cafeteria too.
“With basketball, baseball, work and studies, I was very busy,” he said. “I also worked for Ned Sampson in the tobacco warehouses.”
Williams remembers outstanding athletic programs at the small University. He recalled teammates including Buddy Bell, Kenneth Maynor, Bruce Jones and Forace Oxendine.
“Forace Oxendine was the best baseball player I ever saw,” Williams said. “He was so fast that our biggest problem was finding somebody to catch him.”
Williams is a fan of all sports. He remembers talking with Chancellor Meadors several years ago.
“I asked about football, and he said when he raised $12 million, we would have it,” he said. “I hope they do well this season, and I’m happy to help out.
“I had a great time here,” Williams said.
Williams withdrew from the University when his father became ill to help is family. He enlisted in the Air Force, saw the world and settled in Florida where he worked for NASA through the Apollo moon missions and the Skylab Project.
In 1974, Williams resigned from the space industry and went into business for himself. Over the past 33 years he owned and operated several retail businesses in and around Titusville, Fla.
For more information about the First and Ten Campaign or giving to UNCP, please contact the Office for Advancement at 910.521.6252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.