The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Jerry O. Williams

Share on Social Media

Information about Jerry O. Williams

Profile image of Jerry O. Williams

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Corporate Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Cabbage, Beef, Steak
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/27/1938
Birth Location:
Indianapolis, Indiana

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Corporate Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Cabbage, Beef, Steak
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
9/27/1938
Birth Location:
Indianapolis
See how Jerry O. Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Former Fortune 500 executive and entrepreneur Jerry O. Williams was born on September 27, 1938 in Indianapolis, Indiana to Margaret Nora Stone Williams and James Oliver Williams. His mother established the “Williams Scholarship Fund,” a family savings plan that made it possible for Williams and his siblings to attend college. Growing up on the Eastside of Indianapolis, Williams attended Francis W. Parker School No. 56 where he played trumpet in the band with Freddie Hubbard. Williams went to John Hope Franklin Middle School and graduated from Crispus Attucks High School in 1956. His classmates included basketball great Oscar Robertson, and he was taught by musicologist David Baker. Entering Indiana’s DePauw University, where his fellow black classmates were artist, Willis “Bing” Davis and future civil rights lawyer Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. Enrolling his last two years at Purdue University, Williams graduated with an undergraduate degree in math from DePauw University and a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University in 1961. Entering General Electric’s (GE) Engineering and Science Training Program, Williams finished in 1964. While working for GE, Williams earned his M.S.E. degree in operations research and systems engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1967.

Williams worked for Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto, California in 1968, and by 1973 returned to GE and was mentored by Lou Tomasetti. In 1975, Williams left GE to become vice president of $400-million auto supplier, Maremont, in Chicago where he was befriended by president Richard Black. When Maremont was sold to Zurich-based Alusuisse, Ltd., Williams returned to GE. In 1981, he rejoined Black at AM International, as vice president of corporate planning and development. In 1982, Williams was appointed president of the Bruning Division of AM International, and by 1985, he became president and chief operating officer of the parent company, AM International. Acquiring Harris Graphics in 1986, Williams helped double AM sales. By 1988, AM was doing $1.5 billion in business. Williams became the first African American to grace the cover of Fortune magazine as AM’s future CEO and the nation’s first black president of a Fortune 500 company. However, Williams resigned from AM in 1988 and by 1990 moved to the United Kingdom as chairman of the board and managing director of Monotype Corporation, PLC. In 1993, Williams founded Grand Eagle Companies in Chicago and served as president and chief executive officer of this $215 million company – the largest independent manufacturer and repairer of electric motors and transformers in North America. In 2000, he sold the company to a private equity group and retired.

In 2002, Williams became chairman of Global Recruiters Network (GRN) offering management search services.

Williams lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife, Pamella Jones Williams. They have two grown children.

Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 19, 2007.

See how Jerry O. Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
Loading...
Click Here To Explore The Archive Today!
  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jerry O. William's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams describes his maternal grandfather's profession
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams describes his mother's childhood and education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his first experience of racial discrimination
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jerry O. Williams remembers his mother's emphasis on education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jerry O. Williams describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jerry O. Williams remembers his father's Pentecostal faith
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jerry O. Williams describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Jerry O. Williams describes his parents' personalities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jerry O. Williams describes his mother's personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams remembers his family traditions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams describes how he takes after his parents
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams describes his father's role at the 22nd Street Church of God in Christ in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jerry O. Williams describes his extracurricular activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jerry O. Williams describes the music of his youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jerry O. Williams describes his early role models
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Jerry O. Williams describes his early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Jerry O. Williams describes the prevalence of discrimination in Indiana
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his experience of discrimination at DePauw University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jerry O. Williams describes his music training at Francis W. Parker School 56 in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his influential teachers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams remembers Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams recalls the sports teams at Crispus Attucks High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams describes the history of Crispus Attucks High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams talks about his high school classmate, Oscar Robertson
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his decision to attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his decision to attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, pt. 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jerry O. Williams remembers his early work experiences
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Jerry O. Williams recalls how he funded his education
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Jerry O. Williams describes his experiences at DePauw University, pt. 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Jerry O. Williams describes his experiences at DePauw University, pt. 2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jerry O. Williams describes his decision to study engineering
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his experiences of discrimination at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams describes his professors at DePauw University
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams recalls being selected to train at General Electric
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams describes the General Electric training program
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his experiences of housing discrimination
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jerry O. Williams remembers housing discrimination in Santa Barbara, California
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his experience of discrimination in Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his experiences of discrimination in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Jerry O. Williams remembers seeking legal counsel from attorney Arlen Specter
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his fair housing lawsuit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams describes the history of systems engineering
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams explains his scientific approach to management
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams describes his work for the U.S. military at General Electric
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams remembers meeting his wife, Pamella Jones Williams
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jerry O. Williams recalls joining the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, California
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jerry O. Williams remembers working with Tommie Smith at the Stanford Research Institute
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jerry O. Williams talks about the Vietnam War protests and the Iraq War
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Jerry O. Williams describes his decision to return to General Electric
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Jerry O. Williams describes his wife's education and background
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Jerry O. Williams describes his role at General Electric in Erie, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jerry O. Williams talks about Louis V. Tomasetti
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his recruitment to Maremont Automobile Products, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams describes the products made at Maremont Automobile Products, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his position at Maremont Automobile Products, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams talks about racial discrimination in Corporate America
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams describes the acquisition of Maremont Automobile Products, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jerry O. Williams describes his role at Schweizerische Aluminium AG
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his mentor's departure from Schweizerische Aluminium AG
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Jerry O. Williams remembers his return to General Electric
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Jerry O. Williams remembers training astronaut William Anders
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jerry O. Williams describes his offer to work at AM International, Inc.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his promotion to head of operations of AM Bruning Ltd.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams remembers his challenges at AM Bruning Ltd.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams describes how he became president of AM International, Inc., pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams describes how he became president of AM International, Inc., pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams recalls his publicity as the first black Fortune 500 company president
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Jerry O. Williams describes his departure from AM International, Inc.
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Jerry O. Williams remembers joining Richard B. Black's venture capital fund
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Jerry O. Williams describes his position at Monotype Corporation, PLC
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams remembers founding Grand Eagle Companies, Inc.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams describes Grand Eagle Companies, Inc.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams describes his work as a business consultant
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams describes the impact of racial discrimination on his career
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams remembers James Kaiser
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Jerry O. Williams talks about the racial discrimination in Corporate America
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Jerry O. Williams describes his wife's support for his career
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Jerry O. Williams talks about his family
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Jerry O. Williams describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Jerry O. Williams talks about mentorship in the African American business community
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Jerry O. Williams reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Jerry O. Williams reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Jerry O. Williams describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Jerry O. Williams narrates his photographs