Curtis Williams Memorial

David Williams was presented with his younger brother's Bachelors Degree in American Ethnic Studies this evening at Hec-Edmundson Pavilion. Curtis Earl Williams was just six credits shy of earning the degree when he passed away last Monday.<br> <i>(AP Photo by John Froschauer)</i>

While those who knew him best got their chance to say goodbye to Curtis Williams at his home town on Monday, approximately 2,500 people from his second home got their chance to say goodbye to #25 Tuesday night at the Curtis Williams Memorial at Hec Ed Pavilion.

The memorial was headed by Bob Rondeau, who began the memorial service by stating that Curtis Williams is now in a place where "wheelchairs and hospital beds are left at the door, and always a football game to be played."

After a short prayer by team chaplain and former Husky linebacker Mike Rohrbach, Athletic Director Barbara Hedges spoke of her fond memories of Williams and said, "Curtis taught us the true spirit of courage."

Hedges also assured that the school is committed to overseeing the care of his 8-year-old daughter Kymberly and announced that a portion of the Curtis Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund will be put into a trust for her well-being and education.

"Curtis understood competition," said Head Coach Rick Neuheisel. "When his arms and legs were taken, it was his finest hour. He found a way to compete."

Neuheisel then spoke of the fateful day during his first year at Washington during spring drills where Williams made the switch from tailback to safety.

"I asked him, 'You want to play defense?' and Curtis answered, 'All I want to do is play,'" recalled Neuheisel. "I believe God tapped Curtis on the shoulder and asked if he wanted to play, and Curtis probably answered 'All I want to do is play.'"

Neuheisel struggled to hold back tears as he stated how proud he was of everyone as they all united as a team and displayed unity the when Williams paid his teammates a visit in the locker room before the 2001 Rose Bowl.

Former teammate Willie Hurst spoke of how he considered Williams as a big brother, and that not only did he, but the entire team considered him a big brother. "I'm sad that I lost my big brother," said Hurst. "But I'm joyful that my big brother is not suffering anymore."

Another stirring memory from this evening will be the special presentation made by the College of Arts and Sciences to David Williams, Curtis's older brother.

Dean David Hodge of the College of Arts and Sciences, Professor Stephen Sumida, the Chair of the American Ethnic Studies Department, and Professor Al Black, who was Williams' favorite professor and mentor, presented to David Williams a Bachelors Degree in American Ethnic Studies in the name of Curtis Earl Williams which drew a standing ovation from all of those in attendance.

"Curtis is always going to be here shining down on Husky Stadium, " said the elder Williams.

A special video highlight of Williams' career showcased some of the most vicious hits ever delivered by a Husky Defensive Back. Some of the bigger hits even drew the crowd to applause.

Fittingly, three "C-Dub" by the crowd chants were headed by Rondeau to conclude the memorial.

Like the majority of Husky fans, I did not know Curtis Williams personally. The closest I got to knowing Curtis Williams was watching him hit somebody so hard I thought that even I felt it. But that feeling I felt when I saw his body fall to the turf on that rainy day on October 28, 2000 in Palo Alto is something I will never forget.

The determination of the 2000 Rose Bowl team can be attributed to that of shown by Williams. What C-Dub went through the past 18 months took great courage. While many who would be in that exact same situation would have a pessimistic outlook on life, Williams was always optimistic and had that glowing smile on his face.

Mourning for Curtis is inevitable, but it may be very appropriate to be happy for Curtis now. He got up and walked out of that wheelchair on the morning of May 6th, and now is surely running around playing football in the big Dawghouse in the sky.

As his brother David said at his funeral yesterday in Clovis, "I'm not here to mourn Curtis's death, I'm here to celebrate his life." As brief as his life may have been, Curtis Williams without a doubt touched the lives of not only tens of thousands of husky fans, but hundreds of thousands of people from all over the country.

That is worth celebrating. Mighty was Curtis Williams who wore the purple and the gold.

Goodbye Curtis. You will surely be missed, but never forgotten.

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