CenturyLink founder synonym for success

Josh Dean

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The Student Success Center bears his name. Clarke Williams holds a special place of honor in the university and among the faculty and students. Williams was instrumental in helping bring development and entrepreneurship to not only the Monroe area but also the United States.

Williams was an alumnus of ULM back when it was known as the Northeast Center of Louisiana State University. He went on to found the telecom giant CenturyLink. 

During an event Wednesday on the seventh floor of the library, famed journalist Leo Honeycutt gave a brief presentation on the man and his legacy.

Honeycutt described Williams’ upbringing. Williams graduated Oakridge High School and eventually attended the Northeast Center of Louisiana State University where he graduated before serving as a crew chief during WWII.

Williams did not meet the health requirements to serve in the air force but did so regardless. After three years in the service, he returned to marry Mary Kathryn.

“He was a different man. He was extremely faithful and was never cynical. He was idealistic and positive in his outlook which led him to achieve much success,” Honeycutt said.

Williams was given ownership of the unprofitable Oak Ridge Telephone Company, which his parents owned, as a wedding gift. 

Williams toiled for many nights before finally seeing success.

This small company eventually evolved into CenturyLink, which is now one of only a few fortune 500 companies in Louisiana and the third largest telecommunications company in the United States.

Rabi Tiwari, a freshman computer science major, said he was impressed with Williams’ dedication.

“It’s amazing how he made a fortune 500 company beginning from the bottom up. There’s a lot I can take away from that,” Tiwari said.

Williams built his company on the premise of the Golden Rule and treating others with respect and dignity and was also a profound scholar of the Bible.

Williams’ spirituality influenced how he operated in the business arena, and Jong Mi Kim said she felt staying true to yourself is important.

“I like how he was spiritual and applied that to everything in his life,” said Kim, a freshman general studies major.

Carolyn Perry, one of Williams’ two daughters, said  preserving the memory of her father was important to her.

“This way his grandkids could know who he was. He was a man who put humilty first and success second,” Perry said.