Vincent Williams - Class of 1955
December 2004 "Kewpie of the Month"

From the 1955 Cresset

Vincent's Story - Paintings - Poems

In his 20's  &  In his 60's

Vincent Williams’ bio:
I wish to apologize here at the outset for any of the accidental accuracies that might have found their way into this bio. I think a number of them did slip by me, and when they started, it was “flood-city”! I couldn’t seem to hold them back.

I was born when I was still quite young. Had the usual childhood experiences: kicking dogs, worshipping several cult leaders, trying on clothes at Victoria’s Secret, etc.

But, not all of my formative years were so happy, by any means. For one thing, I never learned to read or write.   Now I don’t confess these things to elicit pity; however, when pity (especially expressed in the form of money) is showered upon me, I try not to blush.

My first girlfriend was Sally. Sally and I used to walk to school together holding hands: Holding Hands, that was the name of the school: Holding Hands School for Different-Type Children. Sally had beautiful black hair that went all the way down her back. [NONE on her head, but it DID go down her back.]. She also had a cute little nose that turned up .... and then down and over. But enough of these former "Oprah" type tales.

I have had numerous performance experiences in my long life; one of the most memorable (I say "memorable" even though I rely on others to describe to me what happened) was that of acting the role of one of the three kings who rode camels and brought gifts to the baby Jesus at Christmas time. Even there, though, fate dealt me an unfortunately ugly blow, since the camel I was riding was a crusty, rank and bad-tempered creature. He threw me off his hump and knocked me frankincenseless. The performance obviously developed something of a glitch at that point. (One might even call it a sonofaglitch.)

Well, although there is much more biographical mischief I could provide, to wax a bit more informative and a tad less impish, let me simply say I am married (as also is my wife Pat), a professional actor and artist. And after having taught theater and speech arts both in college and high school (now retired from 31 years of that Helen Williams-type adventure), my life has resolved itself to a dull roar. Pat and I have two sons, both grown and married. Older son, Jon, is a computer analyst with the U. S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. He and his wife Cindy have no children. Younger son Michael and his wife Maryjo have three little girls. who have discovered if they say, “Granddad, may I please have a mint,” something tasty their way comes. Mike is a copy editor for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald (local newspaper).


Dateline: Columbia, Missouri. The place: Lenore Home for Retirement east of Columbia (where my mother was employed as a nurse). It's August of 1954. The Williams family has just moved to Columbia from Roodhouse, a small railroad town in Illinois.  Williams twins Vince and Kay are sitting in the spacious t.v. room and, realizing they'll be attending Hickman for their senior year of high school, they're hearing about the wonderful reputation of the KEWPIES. Evelyn Miller, co-administrator of Lenore, pronounces Hickman as "Just a marvelous high school! Their football team is known and feared throughout the state as one of the finest."  The KEWPIES???!!!  "But," and this is when both Vince and Kay paid even closer attention, "Hickman High School, under the loving care and teaching of Mrs. Helen D. Williams, is NATIONALLY known for its Verse Speaking Choir." Vince had been quite active in drama and speech back in Roodhouse, and Kay was already extraordinarily accomplished as a pianist and vocalist.

And then ... THEN ... it happened in MUCH the same way as it has for hundreds or(HEAVENS ALIVE! Correcting myself) thousands of students. SPEECH CLASS! Mrs. Helen D. Williams, with her sweet, honest smile, her monumentally skillful leadership that made THIS class seem less like "school" and more like the most serendipitous, delectable experience a high school student (or ANY student) could POSSIBLY encounter. "Weep not, weep not, she is not dead. She's resting in the bosom of Jesus." Some 35 students (with a teacher's right arm beating the cadence) all totally enthralled were speaking together. The "vibes" were somehow strangely tuned to my own. And, you'll know what I mean when I say Mrs. Williams was clearly in love with all she did. And WASN'T THAT AN INFECTIOUS LOVE!!!

(flash forward through that school year)

Solos, leads, speech trips, performances, senior play? It was an exhilarating time of my life with solos in various orations and verses, being the ballad singer in The Lonesome Train, becoming Johnny Appleseed, singing a solo (I'll Be Home for Christmas) in the Christmas assembly, and acting the lead (Danny Churchill) in the senior play ("GIRL CRAZY"). And all of it felt like a very special compliment to me thanks to Helen D. Williams.  The year came and went, as is true with everything and with us all.  But, strange as it might seem, although Mrs. Williams passed away at age 95 on January 17, of 1991. "Weep not, weep not." ... Helen D. Williams is not dead. "She's resting in the bosom of Jesus". and in all our hearts. Hers was a major influence that prompted me to enter into a speech and drama teaching career.  I'm sure she had that effect and a life-long influence on many others (many of you reading this, in fact).

(flash forward to life's happenings)

In an interesting pursuit of several and various artistic endeavors over the years, I’ve been a writer/actor/director for Brave New Workshop [satirical revue company] in Minneapolis; have worked with Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn and George Grizzard at the Guthrie Theater; have acted in a feature film with Sylvester Stallone, and in a CBS network television series episode with Ralph Waite (among a modest passel of life’s additional reckless “adventures“).

Most recently I acted the role of ship’s Dutch Captain William Van Schaick on the June 16th 2004 History Channel docu-drama "SHIP ABLAZE, The General Slocum Disaster". On a regular basis, I act the personage of William (Hawg) Ryan in my original playlet “For cRyan Out Loud“. With my partner who acts the part of Catherine (Mrs.) Ryan, we perform for many touring groups who come to Dubuque from all parts of the country (and a few other parts of the world) to enjoy the Historical Society’s Victorian Progressive Dinner. Then, during the Christmas season my partner and I act the roles of Ellen Ternan and Charles Dickens in another original script titled “A Christmas Dickens”, in which, nestled amongst some light banter, we perform a shortened version of “A Christmas Carol”, acting all the characters in a manner consistent with how it could have been done in Dickens’ own time.  All in all, for this activity, we have performed my plays some 1400 times.

I also have held several art jobs including one with MFA Insurance, another with Minneapolis Honeywell and one with The University (of Missouri) Health Care Hospital in Columbia. In recent years, I’ve done some considerable painting in oils and have finished a series of nine paintings based on the Biblical beatitudes which has enjoyed two exhibitions and may have others before they're sold. Additionally, I’ve sung with a chorale which has toured many countries in concert; and another tour of Australia and New Zealand is planned for 2005.

Now, try mightily as I did to prevent it, I’m afraid there are SOME factual bits of material here. However, I do have to close with something most sincere in saying I hope you’ll feel free to email me at

[violins time]

But, OH, how I enjoy laboring both by day and night sometimes crouching over the nearly exhausted candle just to decipher markings on each page that arrives; or else squinting at the computer screen with little if any clue as to what those strange letter configurations might mean. I’ve reached something of a ratiocination, however: in a word, I’d say there’s at least some blame to ascribe to incomprehensibility. I must resolve to make an effort towards adding literacy to my other capacities.  Thank goodness for my eyes!

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Over the past 6 years (or so) I've also been doing some  on-going "fool the eye" style painting on a farm in Illinois. Work on a potting shed, a barn and other buildings are rather unique and interesting.

I'm attaching three pictures here of that kind of thing. Just for information, as to the FRONT of the potting shed (shown in one of them) the only things that are REAL and not painted on are the door and the little lantern up next to the door. In the picture of the series of windows, SOME of them are real, but not all.  The "window" with the rooster is just painted.  I still have other work there to do, but that will give you an idea.

Then, for a hobby, I've enjoyed quite a lot of gardening ... I've included a couple of composite pictures here of my back yard with its cobblestone path.  The path is 145 ft. in total length and I did mold all the stones myself.  Took me three months and lots of Tylenol.


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by Vincent Williams

CREATION snoggles all my DEEPER THINK,
  associating THIS with sometimes THAT,
as vainly i explore each logic link:
  discovering the why of IS and AT.

How nincompoople MAD i’d grow to be
  if NOTHING ever led to SOMETHING MORE,
or if EACH ITEM that my brain could see
  were POSH’NTRASH and PUFF and nothing for;

if WHEN were SELDOM EVER; NOT were IS;
how deeply CLEAR, while in a WHIRLING DIZ
  would be MY THOUGHTS, and maybe I’D be YOU.

 So just be happy THINGS is as they am--
and not THE WAY they might be, honey lamb.

Next Poem

"I think this would have been a VERY GOOD "fun type" verse choir selection...
it's called THE STORY OF ALTHEA ...
It's story-like and Mrs. Williams used a number of those.
I've included it here."

(as told to Tedford)
by Vincent W. Williams

There once was a dog and her name was Althea,
And she was as smart as a smart dog could be;
But honestly, Tedford, I had no idea
what talents lay hidden in her ‘neath that tree;
As Althie lay sleeping right there ‘neath that tree.

At first I just noticed Althea was dreaming,
You know, with the whimpers that all doggies do?
With twitches and tics so that something was seeming
to claim Althie’s spirit with forceful milieu.
But nothing prepared me for what would ensue:

And then, of a sudden, she gazed with intention:
she raised up her head and her eyes opened wide,
As much as to say, "Never mind the dimension!
I think I can do it!" Her face glowed with pride:
“I now feel inspired -- INSPIRED INSIDE!"

Althea on hind legs raised up and was standing --
with wags of her tail and smiles showing her teeth --
her eyes tracing upwards saw branches expanding,
(her front paws just resting on limbs underneath)
As Althie surveyed that tall tree from beneath.

And then my own eyes simply stopped comprehending,
As, Tedford, I’m confident yours would have done:
Althea, that rascal, began an ascending,
Like she was a squirrel out to have squirr’lly fun --
and not a slow climb – she went up on the run!

The tree was a tall one, I think I have stated,
Oh, maybe a hundred and fifty feet high.
But Althie’s ascent cannot be overrated:
t’was just as if Althie was chasing the sky;
I really think Althie believed she could fly.

On top of that tree like a fool flagpole setter,
Althea was perched just as pleased as a pear;
And e’en were I known as a gambler and better,
I'd never place money on her staying there.
But falling? I only can say, "Au contrere."

Instead, there was Althie surveying the country,
No doubt she was joyful as wind in a sail --
just swaying and staying on top of that fun tree
with wagging and smiling and will to prevail;
And that, my friend Tedford, will end  THIS  tall tale.

--- Vincent Williams

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Poor In Spirit   Persecuted

The Pure In Heart

Three of my paintings from THE BEATITUDES series of nine

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