GORDON R. WILLIAMSON, age 92, passed away peacefully following a brief illness, on Sunday, May 24, 2020. Left to cherish his memory are three daughters - Nancy Crofton (Bill), Linda Terry (Larry) and Janet Knese (Rich); stepchildren Joy Stetler, Susan Carr (Raegan) and David Stetler; 11 grandchildren, 3 step-grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, who lovingly know him as “Papa.” Cousins in and around his birthplace of Fairhope, AL join in remembering him fondly. Gordon had humble beginnings, and an amazing card trick he was taught at age 6 by a drifter in exchange for food during the Depression served him well his entire life.
Gordon was a veteran of the US Navy, a University of Miami graduate, Sigma Chi brother and lifelong member of the Iron Arrow Honor Society, the highest honor attainable at the University of Miami. He was married to Betty Brown Williamson from 1952 until her passing in 1986, then to Linda Calkin Stetler Williamson from 1987 until her passing in 2012. Gordon told his daughters often, “I was blessed to have the two most wonderful wives a man could ask for.” Gordon had one younger sister, Norma, whom he eloquently eulogized at her passing in 2017.
IBM was his first and only career path; he began in the sales division in Tampa, FL in 1951 and retired in 1986. Ever the consummate IBM businessman, he wore a dark suit and white shirt daily, and shined his shoes regularly. In 1955, Gordon was promoted from the domestic side of IBM to IBM World Trade Corporation. He moved his family to New York and went to work at the new headquarters at United Nations Plaza in New York City. Gordon rose up the corporate ladder, serving as Area Manager-Asia Pacific when the family moved to Tokyo, Japan where they resided from 1963 - 1966. This is where he and Betty developed a love for antiquities, dishes and jewelry, especially pearls! In later years, Gordon regularly returned to Japan as a Board Member for Daiwa Bank. A promotion to Marketing Director took the Williamsons back to live in Greenwich, CT for one year, followed by a move to Paris, France in 1967 – 1972, where Gordon was promoted to Vice President and General Manager of IBM Europe. Thanks to Air France, he discovered Hermes silk scarves and thus began years of collecting them.
After IBM World Trade was forced by anti-trust litigation to break up into two companies, Gordon was sent back to New York in 1972, where he served first as Vice President, and then as President of the newly formed IBM World Trade Americas/Far East Corporation. This took the Williamson “party of five” back to their beloved Greenwich home. Decades of upper management IBM positions took Gordon to all 7 continents and 130 countries! Gordon had friends literally around the world. In the foreword of his book, Memoirs of My Years with IBM, he writes: “My IBM career was a glorious and remarkable trip on the road of life and I am most appreciative and grateful.” He welcomed people from around the world into his family’s home and always regaled his guests with colorful stories.
Gordon loved working in his Greenwich fruit orchard when not traveling, and enjoyed sports of all kinds – golf, tennis, squash, skiing, swimming. When not working and after retirement, theater, music, church work, bridge and planning family vacation trips filled his hours. He especially loved the individual trips he took with each of his grandchildren.