It was sad news indeed about the death this week of former Banning City Councilman Roosevelt Williams. He was a Banning and San Gorgonio Pass Area
icon, with portfolio. He touched so many lives during his many years here, after he “retired” from the construction business in, among other places, Carson, California, near to where I was living and working in the 1970s as the editor of Gardena Valley News. We didn’t know each other then, but I wish I had known him in those days.
When I came to the Record Gazette as its editor in 1997, Councilman Williams was the first public or any other kind of official to drop by and officially “welcome” me to Banning and the Pass Area. I didn’t know much about the Pass Area at the time, other than my many years of “passing through” this area, driving by on the I-10, but Roosevelt made me feel welcome from my first few days on the job at the newspaper.
He was an excellent member of the city council in Banning, but a better member of the Banning community at large.
He got his start getting deeply involved with youth sports – which made the naming of a park in his honor most appropriate – and through those early days of involvement, he grew into a community leader that resulted in him getting elected to the Banning City Council more than once. As a city council member, he was known for his passion for the community, his belief in the best for his community and for keeping a close watch on the public’s money for which he was responsible for spending. As a construction foreman in his younger days, he was concerned over getting jobs done right, done on time and on budget – treating and respecting the investment of his company’s owners like their money was his own – and he was no different in his respect for the public’s taxes he was spending as a
member of the city council. He treated the city’s budget like it was his own
money, too – which it was, of course – and he strived to make sure that money
was spent wisely and efficiently.
I treasure the time I spent with him as fellow members of the Banning Kiwanis Club, especially the year I served as president, giving him a hard time from the podium during meetings, while getting a hard time from him, with his great wit and sense of humor, as I tried to run the weekly meetings at the San Gorgonio Inn. The Inn, sadly, is also gone, as is Roosevelt.
I had a particular honor to serve as a panelist on a Banning Chamber of Commerce “roast” of Roosevelt a few years ago. I prepared a special front page of the Record Gazette, which I framed and presented to him. It was an honor to make up that special front page and a greater honor to present it to him that night.
He will be missed in Banning, but his legacy will live on.
I thank Roosevelt for making me feel at home, from my first day on the job at the Record Gazette and I thank Roosevelt for helping make Banning a better place to live, work, play and raise a family during his years here.
God Bless You, Roosevelt.