A small crowd of friends, colleagues and elected officials gathered in the Cobbs Creek area, to observe the plaque dedication and renaming ceremony in honor of the late Rufus O. Williams, the late father of Philadelphia district attorney Seth Williams.
One by one, those who knew Rufus Williams took the podium to tell what an influence he had on the lives of those living in the Cobbs Creek area of West Philadelphia.
“We’re having our first Peace in the Community festival to do all that we can to promote peace and harmony here in West Philadelphia,” Williams said.
According to Williams, it was a resolution introduced by Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, which made the renaming of the park possible.
“For many years my father was responsible for their play area,” said Williams in reference to the playground nearby. “It was directly across the street from where he lived,” Williams said that the family used to joke that his father would jump into his Volkswagen, make a u-turn and go to work.”
An educator by profession, Rufus Williams was perhaps best known in his community for his work with residents and youth.
“My dad’s entire life was devoted and dedicated to children,” Williams said.
Rufus Williams not only coached local youth in sports, but also operated a day camp in Cobbs Creek Recreation Center.
“I’m very thankful,” said Williams about his father’s influence. “I’m the district attorney, but my father did much more than I’ll ever do to prevent crime because of the direct impact he had on the lives of children.”
One of those children was Anthony H. Williams who went on to become a Pennsylvania state senator.
Affectionately refereed to as “Tony” by the people in his Cobbs Creek neighborhood where he grew up, the senator reflected on how Rufus Williams had a positive effect on his life.
“I remember running from the cop in this neighborhood, now I’m close friends with the district attorney,” he said. “Mr. Williams was an educator, an athlete, there are a lot of things we could say about him but what people need to remember most was that he was a protector of our community.”
The senator is no relation to Rufus Williams.
According to him, Rufus Williams spent much of his time, not only in raising and protecting his son Seth but also the children of the neighborhood.
“That’s what made Cobbs Creek what it was and this spirit is now passed down to his son,” the senator said.
West Philadelphia community organizer, Julia Chinn, also had complementary remarks about Rufus Williams.
“I am happy to see so many people out because it was for somebody who was very worthy, it was a long time coming and I wish we could have done it a long time ago,” she said.