What to get a multi-millionaire for a milestone birthday? That was the question for Sheridan Williams when planning a 60th birthday surprise for husband John Eddie Williams, noted trial lawyer and philanthropist.
The former football player at Baylor University had long been a supporter of his alma mater, providing funding for the library at the law school and making a major gift for construction of the football field at McLane Stadium (named for Elizabeth and Drayton McLane).
Sheridan decided on a bronze bust of her husband to be placed at the foot of the stadium, facing the Brazos River and the Baylor Law School, which launched him in his highly-successful career.
At the unveiling ceremony on Sunday, Baylor president Ken Starr noted that the bust "symbolized a very specific act of generosity from Sheridan and John Eddie, to honor this field . . . but it is much broader than that. It's much wider. It's much deeper than that and that depth and breadth have been a pivotal part of the transformation of campus along the Brazos River . . . which has been transformed on both sides by your generosity.
"This is essentially the second miracle on the Brazos," he said.
(As Starr noted, only those steeped in Baylor football lore would know that the first occurred Nov. 9, 1974, when the Baylor Bears defeated the University of Texas Longhorns in Waco, thereby winning the Southwest Conference championship.)
Retired Baylor football coach Grant Teaff, who led that miracle, reminisced about recruiting Williams from Pasadena High School. He along with Sheridan Williams and sculptor Sharon Connally Ammann also had brief remarks. Then the crowd adjourned for a buffet dinner in the stadium President's Suite with commanding views of the river and the campus and the John Eddie Williams Jr. Football Field.
Making the trip to Austin in honor of the Williamses were guests including Grant Harvey, Diane and John Connally, Bruce Buckley, Richard Flowers, Mike Linn, Lora and Dr. John Clemmons, Cary Patterson, Randy Drake, Janet Gurwitch and Ron Franklin, Dancie and Jim Ware, Terry Rambin, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, District Court Judge Rodney Gilstrap of Marshall and Peggy and Dan Allen Hughes of San Antonio.