For years Joe publicly served the County of King George, Virginia, as a member of the King George Planning Commission. Between 1995 – 1997, he began negotiations with CSX Transportation to purchase the abandoned 16.7-mile rail line that has become the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail. In 1997 Joe obtained a contract for purchase and wrote a letter along with the Director of Parks & Recreation to the King George Board of County Supervisors advising them that he was willing to sell the railroad property to the county for recreational purposes. The county was never able to purchase the property, but did come to recognize the high value of the trail both as a recreation venue as well as a prime attraction for visitors.
The 16.7-mile railroad corridor purchase was completed in December, 1997. In 2006, Joe sold the property to David Brickley, who has rigorously protected it and actively promoted it as a recreational trail. Joe continued to support the property as a recreational trail until his death. In 2015, the Board passed a resolution of support for the trail becoming part of Caledon State Park.
Joe had a peaceful presence. He listened intently when people talked to him and he always had a kind but honest response. Joe looked at you when having a conversation. He made us feel comfortable around him. We respected and trusted him. People like Joe L. Williams are few and hard to find. Joe is a deeply beautiful soul. He left us too soon.
He is survived by his wife, Susan, children Celia (John Herron) and Roger (Kim) and grandchildren Ella, Audrey and Ben.
Dave Jones is president emeritus of the Friends of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail, a post he held for 14 years.
Click to read more of our August 2020 newsletter, On the Trail
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