Madam Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the life of and express sadness over the untimely death of lawyer and friend Gerald A. Williams.

Mr. Williams was not only a friend but a brilliant lawyer whose mission was to serve our community in South Florida.  He was a humble man and a true role model.

He had served as the chief counsel to the Palm Beach County School Board since November 2005 and was responsible for all legal matters involving the School Board.  Prior to serving as Chief Counsel, he served for four years as Chief Negotiator and Chief Officer of Administration for the school district.

In numerous appointments and positions, Mr. Williams also served as general counsel for the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association, as treasurer and executive board member for the Urban League of Palm Beach County, and as co-founder and president of the Suncoast Chamber of Commerce in West Palm Beach.

Mr. Williams became one of the first black graduates of the University of Florida College of Law in 1975.  His firm, Haygood & Williams, grew into the largest all-black law firm in the state.  Mr. Williams left private practice in 1997 to serve as Chief Labor Counsel, and Chief Officer of Labor and Legislative Relations for Dade County Public Schools.

In 2009, Mr. Williams was recognized by Florida Trend Magazine as one of Florida’s Legal Elite and identified as one the top government attorneys in the state.

Mr. Williams was a husband, a father, a brother, an uncle, a godfather, a dedicated public service attorney and community leader.  I am grateful for Mr. Williams’ contributions and dedication to Palm Beach County.  He will be greatly missed.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and to the greater community during this difficult time.

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