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John Williams Jr., 86, high school teacher and coach

When John E. Williams Jr. taught high school students about Shakespeare, he did not suffer their readings of passages from plays.

John E. Williams Jr.
John E. Williams Jr.Read more

When John E. Williams Jr. taught high school students about Shakespeare, he did not suffer their readings of passages from plays.

"He would instead tell them he would be reading it to them," son Thomas said, because "they were not qualified to read it aloud."

His readings would show the students "what the language meant and what they were supposed to be listening for."

Mr. Williams, his son said, "was very straitlaced." The Marine veteran "expected kids to come in and be respectful in the classroom - maybe not what they were being taught at home."

On Wednesday, March 4, Mr. Williams, 86, of Mount Holly, who retired in 1990 as English department chair at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, died of multiple systems failures at Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly.

Mr. Williams did not limit his expertise to the classroom, his son said.

In 1981, he coached the golf team at Rancocas Valley to an 18-1 record and the Burlington County League championship, he said.

Born in Trenton, Mr. Williams graduated in 1946 from the former Jamesburg High School in Middlesex County, where he lettered in baseball, basketball, soccer, and track.

He was named to all-county and all-state teams in baseball, basketball, and track, his son said.

Accepted into the freshman class at Princeton University, Mr. Williams instead enlisted in the Marine Corps and served from 1946 to 1948, operating a searchlight in a gunnery outfit and working as an administrative clerk.

Mr. Williams earned a bachelor's degree in English literature and physical education in 1953 at Rutgers, New Brunswick, where he lettered for four years as a baseball pitcher, his son said. He was a member of the 150-pound football team and a sprinter on the track team.

In 1956, Mr. Williams earned a master's degree in educational administration at Rutgers and began his career at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, teaching English and helping to coach baseball, basketball, and football into the early 1960s.

He then moved to Northern Burlington County Regional High School in Columbus, where he taught English and coached.

"He left public education and went to work for . . . the Job Corps through the early '70s," his son said, "going up to the New York office as administrative head of vocational training."

In 1974, Mr. Williams was back to public education, teaching and coaching at Rancocas Valley until he retired in 1990.

Ron George, 70, a retired art teacher at Washington Township High School, knew Mr. Williams through his wife, Jane George, who taught art at Rancocas Valley.

"Jack was a straight shooter," George said.

Mr. Williams gave golf lessons at, among other sites, the adult school at Rancocas Valley High, where George was one of his students.

"He was thoroughly authentic," George said. "He told it like it was."

Besides his son Thomas, Mr. Williams is survived by his wife, Joan; and another son, Timothy.

A life celebration was being planned for an undetermined date and place.

Donations may be sent to

Condolences may be offered to the family at