Paul Hamilton Williams

Paul Williams was born July 7, 1923, to immigrant parents. He died Dec. 8, 2022. His mother, Vera McMillan Williams was a second-generation woman of Scottish descent and a commercial artist. His father, Paul H. Williams Senior was a machinist who came to the United States from Denmark after World War I. Paul H. Junior was raised in Chicago.

Paul had two brothers named Phil and Robert. The brothers were close and remained so throughout their lives. The early family dynamics the three boys endured were not easy, but they had the YMCA and the Chicago Art Institute close by. These two institutions helped shape their lives.

During the Depression, life in the city was challenging. Paul talked of the many times he, his brothers and his mother would wait in line at a museum for soup. Despite many hardships, they lived near Lake Michigan, so at early ages they learned to swim and to sail. The three brothers were athletic and spent their summers outside.

With World War II approaching, Paul decided to apply for the newly created Army Mountain Division.  He knew how to ski, and he felt fortunate when he was accepted into Company F of the 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment of the Tenth Mountain Division in January 1943. The unit received their mountain training at Camp Hale in Colorado.

By this time in his life, following in his mother’s footsteps, Paul had studied for some years at the Chicago Art Institute and was a good artist. He took to Camp Hale a small black and white camera, his sketch pad, pencils, and a small watercolor palate. During the rigorous training in the mountains of Colorado and, later, while off the battlefield, he created drawings depicting the collegiality and closeness of the men he grew to love and depend on. By the end of the war, he had hundreds of drawings, including cartoons, some of which are in books written about the “Tenth”. The originals of these unique drawings are housed in the “Tenth Mountain” archives of the Denver Public Library.

The unit was sent to fight in the Apennine Mountains of Northern Italy and suffered heavy losses on Monte Belvedere in a victorious battle with the Germans. Paul was heavily injured and received several decorations. He was discharged from the military in early 1946.  He mourned his fallen comrades all his life.

Thanks to the “GI” Bill, Paul was able to start school at Western State College (WSC) in Gunnison, Colorado. Paul was on the WSC Ski Team, which interestingly also included women. Paul met a fellow slalom racer, Loretta Love, who was also being educated compliments of the GI Bill, as she served as a corpsman (nurse) in the Navy.

Paul and Loretta were married in 1949 in Aspen, Loretta’s hometown. Paul received a master’s degree in education in Greeley, Colorado, and from there he felt fortunate and privileged to obtain a teaching position at Adams State College (ASC) in Alamosa, Colorado. Paul became a full professor and taught for thirty-three years in the art department. On sabbatical from ASC he achieved a Master of Fine Arts from the USC in California. During his travels and time off, he painted passionately. Today his artwork is represented in several places in the Colorado.

Loretta and Paul had four children. Their second child, Roger, became a professional artist following his grandmother’s and father’s footsteps. The family would spend holidays in Mexico and a good part of the summer camping at Maroon Bells in Aspen. As the children grew, summer weekends were spent sailing and winter weekends skiing. Life was good.

Loretta and Paul retired from education and moved to South Fork, Colo., to be closer to the mountains. They fit right in and became an integral and active part of the community. They belonged to the Chapel of the South Fork. To this day, the Chapel is adorned with stained glass windows created by Paul during his early retirement and in the latter part of his life. Paul lost his wife Loretta in 1998 and his son Robert in 2006 and their lives were memorialized and celebrated in the Chapel. Paul is survived by three children, Kathleen, Roger, and Paul junior.

Paul lived his last years in the Colorado Veteran’s Community Living Center in Rifle, Colo., near Grand Junction, where his son Paul Junior lived. In Rifle, Paul developed warm friendships with staff and residents, and he received superb wholistic care. On Dec. 8, 2022, at the age of 99 years, he relinquished his hold on life. As he left his unit, he was escorted by and received his last salute from his fellow male and female veterans and care givers as he made his final Earthly journey.

Paul will be memorialized in the family cemetery in Aspen, Colo.