Dr. Steven Alan Williams, 63, died peacefully at the Keever Solace Center in Asheville on December 18, 2019, after bravely battling colon cancer for over two and half years. Born on May 10, 1956, in Asheville, North Carolina, Steven was the youngest of three children of the late Lloyd Edward Williams and Eva Estelle Craft Williams. Steven is survived by his brother Ed Williams (Jan), sister Patsy Williams Agee (Royce), as well as an uncle, seven cousins, two nephews, six nieces, three great-nephews, two great-nieces, and his beloved miniature Schnauzer rescue dogs, Max and Willie.
Steven graduated from Asheville High School, completed his bachelor’s degree at Mars Hill College, and then his masters and doctorate in music arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His gift for music performance flourished from an early age, accepting his first paid position as a church organist at the age of 13. His expertise was recognized in countless ways, including being awarded the Prix d’Excellence in 1980 while studying under Marie-Claire Alain at the Conservatoire National de Musique, France, and winning First Place in the 1981 National Organ Playing Competition in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Steven began his professional career at Warren Wilson College in 1981 as the chapel and college organist and accepted a teaching faculty position in the Music Department in 1982. He served as chair of the Music Department from 1985-1989 and again from 1992-2007. In 1990, Steve was the first Warren Wilson faculty member awarded the honor of Teacher of the Year. Throughout most of his years at the college, he also served as the Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church organist, music director and chapel choir director. In the wider community, he was Assistant Conductor and Accompanist for the UNCA Community Chorus from 1989-1990, and for the Asheville Symphony Chorus from 1999-2009. Active for many years in the American Guild of Organists, he served as Dean of the Western North Carolina chapter from 1999-2001.
In addition to being an exceptional musician, choral director, teacher, and mentor, Steven had a rich and varied personal life. His passions included opera, sci-fi, musical theatre, cooking, and animals of all kinds. Above all of this, he will be remembered for his keen sense of humor, and his unfailing love and dedication to his many dear friends near and far.
A celebration of Steven’s life will be held at the Warren Wilson Presbyterian Church and College Chapel at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 11, 2020, with a reception to follow in the Ransom Fellowship Hall. In lieu of flowers, you may remember Steven through a gift to Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas, ABCCM, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue, or other charity of your choice. Condolences may be sent to Patsy Agee, 806 Melville Avenue, Danville, VA 24540.
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