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Grayling Williams, 49 of Benton Harbor, MI, transitioned on September 24, 2018, at Pine Ridge in Stevensville, MI. Legacy farewell services will be held on Monday, October 1, 2018, at Pilgrim Baptist Church, 1105 E Main St, Benton Harbor, MI with visitation starting at 10:00 am followed by service at 11:00 am, with a Wake schedule on September 30, 2018, at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church, 1105 E Main St, Benton Harbor, MI 49022 beginning at 3:00 pm until 7:00 pm.
Grayling L. Williams was born, on March 12, 1969, at Mercy Hospital in Benton Harbor, Michigan; to the union of Thelma Jean (Calvin) and Oscar Lee Williams. Grayling was an eager child with big hopes and dreams. He accepted Christ at the age of eight years old at Pilgrim Rest Baptist, under the leadership of the Rev. W.E. Ellis. At Pilgrim Rest, Grayling was a member of many ministries: President of the Angelic Choir, member of the youth choir, founder of the Junior Usher Board, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, the Drama Ministry, and a Junior Deacon. He was also personal assistant and driver for Rev. W.E. Ellis. Grayling was a very committed member of Pilgrim Rest and served under three pastors: Rev. W.E. Ellis, Rev. Ellis Hull, and Rev. Emery Mack Varrie. Grayling was also known for his artistry, he wrote, directed and choreographed many plays, skits and dramatic acts for Pilgrim Rest and the Benton Harbor Community.
Later in his adult life, Grayling also was a member of Union Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church. He served there as a Trustee, Director and President of the Male Chorus and Director of Transportation. Grayling was a pillar of the community, he served tirelessly helping those in need. He had a heart of compassion and helped others wherever it was needed. He became an entrepreneur at the age of 20 years old and was the owner and operator of Mr. G’s Barbecue and Mr. G’s Express for over 30 years; which provided medical non-emergency transportation to the residents of the State of Michigan and the tri-state area. In 1985, prior to the passing of the HR3706 bill, (known as the King Holiday bill) what is currently as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day, (the third Monday in January); Grayling honored Dr. King with a community celebration, co-founded by him and Marilyn Jones. Little did he know that this celebration would garner national fame. The Dr. King celebration hosted many gospel musical guests such as the Clark Sisters, Albertina Walker, the Barrett Sisters, Dorothy Norwood, Angela Spivey, Beverly Crawford, Al Mac-Will and a host of other national gospel artists. Grayling was a Gospel Music Promoter and he hosted groups such as Lee Williams and the Spiritual Q. C’s, the Williams brothers, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and many others.
Grayling received countless awards and accolades while serving the Benton Harbor community. These included awards the Union Memorial A.M. E.’s Man of the Year award, Founder of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration for 30 years, the Benton Harbor Community Humanitarian Award-2013, Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Benton Harbor-2011, Seventh-Day Adventist Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Award-2012, as well as countless other awards.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving mother, Thelma Jean (Calvin) Williams, his oldest brother Gregory L. Williams (Muskegon, Michigan) and youngest sister Tasha L. Williams (Detroit, Michigan); Special sisters: Mabel Williams-Bray (Chicago, Illinois), Karen “Kay-Kay” Pratcher (Dallas, Texas) and Genette Pratcher-Vinson (Battle Creek, Michigan). Special cousin: Doris Jean Larry. Godchildren: Skyla Brown-Bates, Malajiah Reevey, Mariyah Brown, Saniya Gentry, Charles Gentry Jr., Coreyion Miles and Darren McCormick. God sisters: Aisha Williams, Marilyn Jones, Michael and Donald Harmon, Rev. Wilkins, Robert Jenkins, Daniel Tucker, Roy Payne, Willis Adams, Lynette, and Lois Ann Clay, Mark Nolan, Robin Branscumb and Robin Lee Finch. Special uncle: Willie “Uncle Bill” Murphy. Fairy-God-mother: Lou Buchannan; Special Friends: Renee’ Hull-Gentry, Lisa Lloyd, Albert White, Grover Easterling, and Darnell Clement and many other members of the Benton Harbor High School Class of 87’.
Grayling was preceded in death by Rev. Ophelia and John Barnes (Godparents), Samuel Williams (uncle), Bessie Smith (aunt), Susie Boyd (aunt), Maggie Williams (aunt) and his father Oscar L. Williams.