George H. Williams

HOUGHTON – George H. Williams, a resident of Houghton, passed away early in the morning on Feb. 8th, 2013. He was born on Sept. 16th, 1926 in Hancock, a son of the late Nellie (Crowley) and George Williams both of the Hancock and Quincy areas.

George is survived by his wife Eleanor “Babe” (Kirkish) Williams of Houghton; four sons, Richard (Jane) Williams, George Williams, Daniel (Patricia) Williams, and David (Kathryn) Williams; and one daughter, Barbara (Mark) Wiitanen; 13 grandchildren, Jordan Williams, Hannah Williams, Anthony Williams, Christen Williams, Sean Williams, Michael Williams, Paul Wiitanen, Eric Wiitanen, Matthew Williams, Michael Williams, Daniel Williams, Dawson Williams and Natalie Williams; two great grandchildren, Rio Williams, Corbin Williams; Siblings, Helen and Dr. Lee Krystosek, Sister, Helen Louise Williams, Patricia Wright, James and Donna Williams and several nieces and nephews.

Also preceding him in death were sister and brother-in-law, Mary Kathleen and Les Hafdahl; and brother-in-law, James Wright.

While George was very accomplished with his work achievements around the world he was always a local boy who never lost track of his hometown roots. From humble beginnings as a paper boy and a shoe shine boy in his childhood years, he rose to many achievements in his career.

George attended St. Patrick’s grade school and Hancock High School, graduating in 1944 and joined the Navy at the age of 17. At the end of the war, he returned to study Civil engineering at Michigan College of Mines and Technology (MTU), earning his degree in 1952. George maintained a close and enduring relationship with the university where he was also a member of the Presidents Club and recipient of the Silver Medal in 1986.

He and Babe were married in 1952 and began their life together working in Wilmington, Del., with the E. I. DuPont Company. George dedicated his career to civil engineering, focusing on large scale mining projects, both nationally and internationally. George worked his way up through several construction projects quickly becoming a prominent Project Engineer. He continued to relocate several times to various regions of the US including the Iron Range areas of northern Minnesota, Chicago, Florida, and California. He and his family were especially fond of their years in Calumet where George worked for the Calumet and Hecla Mining Co. in the 1960’s. George and his family continued to be enriched when their foreign travels began with a move to Chile, South America where George distinguished himself as the Construction Manager of the El Teniente Copper Mine, the world’s largest underground copper mine and smelter. George then accepted a position as Vice President and General Manager of Arthur G. McKee’s European Operations based in Madrid, Spain. There he and his family stayed for 8 years prior to accepting a position in Mexico City where he opened and headed up McKee’s Latin American office. He ultimately retired from McKee in 1986 and capitalizing on his vast experiences in management of large infrastructure mining projects became a private consultant to world mining interests. He completed his distinguished career by becoming the Project Director for INCO Mining of Toronto, Canada on their gold and nickel mining extraction project in Indonesia. Following the successful completion of this large project, George and Babe returned to their home in Houghton where they continued to enjoy their many friends and family members who came to visit and enjoy their renowned hospitality. During his retirement George was a guest lecturer at many universities where he generously shared his passion for his profession to benefit young engineering students.

George was a member of St. Ignatius Loyola Church having served on the parish council as well as various committees. George was also a member of Portage Lake Golf Course. He loved to stream fish and never passed up a chance to play a game of cribbage with family or friends. He was an avid fan of the Michigan Tech Hockey Huskies having served as student manager while attending the university. He was also a big fan of the Green Bay Packers having hosted many packer game day socials at his home.

The hallmark of his life was his never ending love for his family and friends. He touched people everywhere he went around the world. His counsel and friendship to all who knew him will be greatly missed. His sense of humor was ever present and a part of how he delivered his life lessons to his family. Because of that, George will always be fondly remembered by those who knew and loved him. George was a very giving man, full of life and love for his family and friends.

A mass of Christian Burial for George will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church of Houghton with Fr. John Martignon to celebrate. Spring burial will be in the Forest Hill Cemetery.

Friends may call on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Plowe Funeral Home of Houghton where a parish prayer service will be held at 5:00 p.m. Friends may also call on Thursday morning from 10 a.m. until time of services at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church of Houghton.

In lieu of others expressions of sympathy the family suggests that memorial be given to St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic of Houghton or the Portage Health Foundation.

To view George’s obituary or to send condolences to the family, please visit

The Plowe Funeral Home of Houghton has been assisting the family with the arrangements.