The Estate Planning and Administration Section is honored to posthumously award Jon Williams the 2020 Patricia Paxton Wagner Award for Excellence in Estate Planning and Administration. Pat Wagner, after whom the award is named, was a prominent and universally respected trust officer with the various banks that eventually became Bank One and then JPMorgan Chase. Recipients are noted as having “extraordinary efforts and positive achievements” in estate planning and administration. Prior to his passing, Jon was a partner at Williams Barrett & WIlkowski LLP, where he practiced in the areas of probate, estate planning, financial institutions, health care and elder law. We connected with some people who knew Jon well and wish to share some wonderful things about him.
From Jennifer VanderVeen:
Jon was a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. He had a way of being paternalistic without being overbearing and of building up a young lawyer’s confidence without giving them an inflated sense of their abilities. He truly cared about everyone he worked with, including his clients. It wasn’t unusual for Jon to randomly stop at Ritters on his way back to the office and show up with pints of custard for everyone. No matter where you went with him, you would run into someone he knew - whether it was from his church, his work or the time he spent as a history teacher prior to becoming a lawyer.
Jon loved history. Some of my favorite memories are traveling with Jon and his wife Daris to NAELA conferences. Whether we were driving a Mini through Boston traffic to the Kennedy Library or touring the Capitol in Washington D.C., I always learned something new and had fun along the way.
His family was very important to him. Friday nights and Saturdays were for family. The rest of the week, I think he worked non stop. He’s the only person I know who could bill hours at the gym. Being raised in Missouri, he was unfortunately a Cardinals fan - which we always had a great time arguing about. His upbringing also gave him a wealth of really odd sayings. “Hey, squirrel, settle down” was something he said frequently (usually when I was ranting about something FSSA had done).
From Claire Lewis:
We were on the opposite sides of a case one time, and I couldn’t have asked for a better opposing counsel. I do know that he was a kind gentleman. I would call him the elder statesman of our branch of the legal profession. He was well known to the legislators in his area, and, as a result, Dennis and I asked Jon to go with us to the legislature when major Medicaid changes were being proposed. Jon’s influence and gentlemanly ways served us well during those times. Many of the legislators with whom we were dealing appreciated his sincerity and down to earth approach to explaining the issues and were, as a result, persuaded to consider the changes we were offering. I know that Jon loved his family, and that his wife, Daris, was truly his life partner. We did talk from time to time about the importance of family, and I know how much he cherished his grandchildren.
Jon was a high school teacher on the south side of Indy before he became a lawyer. I think that served him well in working with his clients and also in being a panelist for CLEs over the years. I know that he was a history-lover, too, as he had some great discussions with Garry (also a history lover) at some of the social events over the years.
We hope you'll join us in celebrating Jon and all he's done for our community and our bar association.
If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Estate Planning & Administration Section, please email Kara Sikorski at firstname.lastname@example.org.