by Walter Fox

Frederick Park “Fred” Williams, 89, of Chestnut Hill, a retired investment broker, musician and longtime community volunteer, died April 28 of heart failure at Fairview Nursing Home, where he had been a resident for the past six years.

Mr. Williams retired in 1989 from the Kidder Peabody & Co. investment firm, but he was best known in the Chestnut Hill community for his 36-years as manager of the Pastorius Park Summer Concerts. For his years of dedicated service to this annual event, he was cited by the City of Philadelphia and received the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Benefactor’s Award in 2000.

Mr. Williams’ community service, however, went well beyond the Pastorius Park concerts. He was a member and past president of the former Chestnut Hill Fathers Club, a member of the Water Tower Advisory Council and an active Town Watch member.

On major holidays, like Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, he could be found either leading or playing tuba in local bands. He served for many years as a judge, and for a time was head judge, at the Mummer’s Parade in Philadelphia.

Mr. Williams was considered to be an authority on music history, especially on John Philip Sousa and the marching-band music of that era, which he loved. He wrote numerous articles for music journals and was constantly sought after for his encyclopedic knowledge of music.

His extensive record collection of marching-band music is now housed at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Born in Los Angeles, he traveled around the world with his mother and father, who was a mining engineer, and, while living in New York, became an Eagle Scout. During World War II he served in the Canadian Army.

He received a bachelor’s degree in music education from Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a master’s in music from Columbia University. He taught music in the Philadelphia public schools for several years in the 1960s before entering the investment field with Eastman Dillon & Co.

Mr. Williams is survived by his wife, Barbara; a son, Robert W.; four grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. A son, Frederick L. Williams, preceded him in death. Funeral services were private.

  • Julie Byrne

    Sorry to hear of Frederick’s passing. I feel honoured to follow in his footsteps and continue his legacy by helping to organise the Pastorius Park Concerts.

  • Karen Rile

    We are so sorry to hear of the death of our neighbor, Mr. Williams. Our family lives on border of Pastorius Park, and for years enjoyed the fruits of his hard work. I remember taking one of my daughters, then three, to a concert by the Allentown Band. During one of the Sousa marches, she turned to me in joy saying, “I know this song! It’s from Barney!” (The purple dinosaur.) Twenty years later, her musical tastes have refined, and she is a lifelong lover of classical and other kinds of life music. Thank you, Mr. Williams, for making free, live, outdoor music available for generations of families in our community.

  • Brenda Cobb

    My condolences to my mother, Barbara. I would like to say that the obituary is incorrect. I guess since I was adopted and not their “own” child that I wasn’t worth mentioning .

  • pat sirianni