Thomas B. Williams Jr., 63, of Newtown Square, a teacher at Marple Newtown High School and a writer and poet, died of complications from cancer Sunday, Dec. 19, at Paoli Hospital.

Until retiring in 2009, Mr. Williams taught English at Marple Newtown for 35 years. For the last 10 years, he was also an adjunct professor of English at Immaculata University.

For many years, he was adviser to the yearbook, newspaper, and literary magazine staffs at Marple Newtown, and coached the chess team to impressive victories.

In 1991 the team won the North American Novice Chess Championship. "It was an incredible intellectual marathon," Mr. Williams told The Inquirer after the event. "In one day, 65 serious games of chess were played with hundreds of students playing and it's stone quiet. It was a wild scene," he said.

The school's team was unusual because half the team was female. "Chess is a male-dominated sport," he said.

A talented writer, Mr. Williams wrote the libretto for Heliopause, an opera staged at Carnegie Mellon University, and cowrote a play staged at Harvard University. His haiku had been read at the Kyoto Peace Museum in Japan and at a conference in India.

Ten years ago, he won a contest in Japan to have his haiku printed on cans of Ito En green tea. The verse, "Sleet falling/On page of Braille/Changing the story," has been printed on millions of cans, his wife, Margaret Kane Williams, said.

Mr. Williams was also a songwriter and played the guitar, mandolin, and keyboard. He enjoyed golf at Edgmont Country Club, online chess, and travel.

Mr. Williams graduated from Marple Newtown High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from West Chester University and master's degrees in English and theater from Villanova University. He and his wife met while they were earning teaching certificates in special education at Cabrini College.

Mr. Williams is survived by his wife of 25 years.

A life celebration will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at Newtown Square Presbyterian Church, 3600 Goshen Rd.

Donations may be made to Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, 414 Paoli Pike, Malvern, Pa. 19355.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.