Omni co-founder Joe Williams dies
Omni co-founder Joe Williams died March 26, 2019, following an extended illness.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Joseph F. Williams, AIA, who died Tuesday, March 26, after an extended illness. Joe was a partner in Omni Architects from the firm’s inception in 1975 until his retirement in 2010.
Born February 4, 1939 in Louisville, Kentucky, Joe attended the University of Kentucky College of Architecture, where he earned a BA in 1965. During his college years, Joe spent his summers working for McLoney, Tune & Clark, later known as McLoney & Tune. It was there that Joe began his career after graduation, and was elevated to the level of Associate in the firm in 1970. While at McLoney & Tune, Joe was reunited with fellow UK grads Sam Halley III, FAIA, and David McIntosh, AIA. The three joined forces to form their own firm, Omni Associates. Joe became one of five partners when Omni Associates merged with McLoney Associates in 1983 and the firm name was eventually streamlined to Omni Architects.
Throughout his career, Joe was involved in many professional and civic associations, including the AIA East Kentucky Chapter, the Kentucky Society of Architects, and the UK College of Architecture Alumni Association. He served as an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association in the mid to late 1990’s. He leaves a design legacy that includes over a hundred notable projects throughout the Bluegrass region such as the Hunt-Morgan Biological Sciences Building at UK, the Kentucky Medical Services Foundation Headquarters and Clinic, Kentucky Clinic South, the Myers Building Renovation in downtown Lexington, elementary schools in Bourbon County, facilities for Owensboro Community & Technical College, Anchor Baptist Church, and the Whitlock Student Services Building at EKU.
Joe’s passion for life and for his work was evident to all who knew him. Long-time friend and business partner Sam Halley remembered Joe as, “One of the greatest optimists of all time; a friend of all.” Omni Architects’ vice president Eric Zabilka echoed this sentiment. “He was a remarkable person. Joe saw every day at Omni as a joy and a privilege. No matter how bad your day was, Joe had something positive to say.”
Over the 34 years Joe was at Omni, he hired and mentored nearly a hundred design professionals, some of whom are still with the firm. Omni president Michael Jacobs, FAIA, was a recent graduate that came on board soon after the firm’s inception in 1976. “I was still learning about the profession and Joe served as one of my mentors, patiently bringing me along in the myriad of issues that one needs to master to become an architect. More than that, I learned from Joe what it means to have professional integrity in what one does, to enjoy what we do as designers, and that we need to make the most out of every project for our clients. Our journey together lasted over many decades, and Joe’s passing offers us a moment of reflection. His passion, many accomplishments, and great buildings will endure well into the future as a tribute to his skills”.
Joe was preceded in death by his wife Joan Rainey Williams, and is survived by daughter Paige, son Blair, his beloved grandchildren and extended family members, and many friends. Arrangements for a celebration of life are pending.