The funeral of Albert “Tank” Williams was today. “Tank” as he was known as, was formerly headmaster of Harrison College for many years, after having been a teacher there for many more years. Tank was also the brother of former chief justice Sir Denys Williams and of former justice of appeal Colin Williams and of former Barbados High Commissioner Monty Williams.
The Williams family, one of the greatest legal families in the Caribbean, was also inextricably linked to the equally legally and scholastically illustrious Marshall family, of which Sir Roy Marshall is a member, along with his sister, Monty Williams’ widow, Dorothy Williams, who Bajans of all walks of life know with deep affection as “Aunt Doro”, a leading lawyer and privy councillor. Also, there was classics scholar and teacher Winston Marshall, who was also a teaching colleague of Tank at Harrison College.
With the passing of Tank, so too an era has passed and BU remembers him with affection through amusing anecdotes. After all, Tank was a man of humour, including about himself. So, it is fitting that through humour we remember him.
Tank, while headmaster, was accompanied everywhere by his faithful dog, Otto. Even on to the podium at Harrison College for assembly and prayers every morning. One day at Harrison College, Tank had had cause to cane a pupil and the pupil decided to get his own back. So that evening, he telephoned Tank and asked to speak to Otto. Over the phone, Tank could be heard calling Otto to take the call, until he realised what he was doing. “Is this a joke,” screamed the incandescent Tank, before slamming the telephone down.
It should never be assumed by the fact that Tank was unmarried that he had no deep appreciation of the “fairer sex”. Indeed, his appreciation was tremendous, but he was a devotee of variety and a great many members of the opposite sex had first-hand knowledge of his capacity for amatory dalliance. Indeed, at one Christmas party at which Tank was a guest, the lady who had been his “squeeze” the previous night was also a guest. This lady regaled the other female guests with an account of her tryst with Tank. It seems that, after having availed himself of her expert ministrations, he had immediately taken his leave, saying, “Thank you very much, it was very nice,” in his usual brusque, no-nonsense manner and out the door he went. So the ladies at the party, whenever he, the perfect gentleman, brought them a fresh drink, would say to him, “Thank you very much, it was very nice.” Far from detracting from his appeal to the ladies, this tale seemed only to spur them on to know more about Tank.
Tank also had a no-fear policy about death. At the deathbed of his brother, Monty Williams, as he and his other brothers stood around, Tank told them of his views on death. “I look forward to it, “he said. “I will spend all my time talking to Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart.” “So,” said his brother Colin, “while they compose, you will decompose.”
After his retirement, Tank was to be seen, often in the company of his brother Sir Denys, at musical events, especially if the works of his idols, Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart, were being performed. There, he was clearly delighted to be greeted by former pupils and friends and to catch up on what was happening in their lives.
So, to Tank we say well done, thank you and bon voyage and may you ever enjoy the company of Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart. Requiescat In Pace.