SALISBURY – Those who knew Donnie Williams remember his entrepreneurial spirit, love of baseball and enthusiasm for knowledge.
Most of all, they remember his smile.
“I think his smile says it all,” said Kimberly Roemer, member of the Donnie Williams Foundation. “He loved being with people and was not only a good businessperson, but a great friend with an endless quest for knowledge.”
It seems fitting that the Salisbury University alumnus would leave a legacy of enriching the experiences of the younger generation. This year, a gift from the Donnie Williams Foundation will support SU’s Summer Enrichment Academies (SEA).
The SEA program allows area youth to delve into their passions while receiving guidance from SU’s highly skilled faculty and staff, during a time when they may not otherwise participate in learning activities with the same level of support they receive during the school year. Programs have included outdoor education, comics and games, musical theatre, forensic science, filmmaking and more.
“The SEA program has a tremendous impact on the students that participate as well as their families,” said Wynnette Curtis, program coordinator of Diversity Initiatives at SU and SEA program coordinator. “They build not only academic skills but social and life skills, while engaging in topics they enjoy learning about.”
This year, the program has 300 students enrolled in 16 different academies. The gift from the Donnie Williams Foundation provides scholarships for students and families who may not otherwise be able to participate in programs like this.
Mark Granger, president of the Donnie Williams Foundation and a personal friend of Williams, said that growing up, Williams did not have the opportunity to engage in afterschool programs and enrichment opportunities. He felt strongly that the money he left behind should benefit the children of the region he grew up in.
“Donnie believed in giving back to the communities which had given him so much throughout his life,” Granger said. “When an opportunity to support his Alma Mater came up, it just felt right.”
A proud Maryland native, Williams’ hard work and dedication allowed him to lead a successful life as an entrepreneur on the Eastern Shore. He wanted to ensure other students had the same opportunities. With this goal in mind, he created The Donnie Williams Foundation to support schools in St. Mary’s, Wicomico and Worcester counties.
As an SU student, Williams conceived the plans for his first successful businesses, Alarm Guard security systems and Advanced Property Rental. He established both in 1976 and sold Alarm Guard in 1992, continuing to oversee Advanced Property Rental until his passing.
Through his vision, Williams changed the face of student housing in Salisbury, developing the complexes in which many SU students still live today. As a developer, he established several off-campus student housing complexes, including University Townhouses, Cedar Crossing, Varsity Lane and Williams Landing.
Exactly one decade after his passing on May 17, 2012, SU honored his legacy by announcing the renaming of its varsity baseball complex as Donnie Williams Sea Gull Baseball Stadium.
“Donnie was a self-made man,” Granger said. “He was always learning and growing, and he enjoyed sharing that knowledge and positive energy with others. We are proud to continue that legacy by supporting SU’s Summer Enrichment Academies.”
For more information about SU’s Summer Enrichment Academies, call 410-546-6218 or visit the SU Summer Enrichment Academies webpage (salisbury.edu/administration/academic-affairs/summer-academies/).
For more information about scholarships and endowments, contact Amy Luppens at firstname.lastname@example.org.