By Rich Brown
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Some might think of him as the "Music Man" of Ozark Christian College. Others might know him through the seven different programs he has directed at OCC. Still more might recall him as editor of the school magazine The Compass or, perhaps, campus historian.
Regardless of how Meredith Williams is remembered, he will retire Sunday with one particularly noteworthy achievement: he is the longest serving full-time employee at the Joplin college.
That has earned him another, albeit unofficial, title of Mr. OCC. The latter designation comes even though the Ottawa, Kan., native never stepped foot inside an OCC classroom as a student. On top of that, even though he is not a graduate, he is the only person to ever be made an honorary alumnus of OCC.
Graduating from Phillips University in Enid, Okla., and Wichita (Kan.) State with bachelor's and master's degrees in music education, respectively, Williams began working in the OCC Music Department in the summer of 1967.
His assignment was to teach music classes, start a concert band and form a musical group, said Matt Proctor, current OCC president.
The musical group became known as Impact Brass and Singers, which used drama and multimedia resources in performing at churches, conventions and on national stages such as the Air Force Academy Chapel on July 4, 1976, our nation's 200th birthday.
They also made appearances at the Pentagon and other places around the U.S. Capitol, as well as Disneyland and Disney World.
In presenting the OCC Distinguished Service Award to Williams last month, Proctor said that thousands of people learned of OCC because of the ministry of Impact Brass and Singers.
He went on to say at the presentation that it was because of Williams' leadership abilities in his 46 years with the college that he was called on to oversee such a huge variety of areas. Some of the areas named were the alumni department, recruitment, public relations, events, printing, campus redevelopment, graphic design, proofreading, radio and publications.
In addition to documenting and preserving the college's history as campus historian and photographer, Williams directed the Preaching-Teaching Convention for 21 years and served for 25 years as editor of The Compass.
"No one has promoted the work of the college more than Meredith, and he has done all of this with enthusiasm, energy, humor, a commitment to excellence and a genuine care for people," Proctor said during the presentation.
Williams served not only under the leadership of Proctor, but also that of two other presidents, Don Earl Boatman and Ken Idleman.
After being honored in 2004 at the alumni banquet of the North American Christian Convention, Williams was further paid tribute by Idleman in a full page of the Compass.
Idleman listed seven areas, along with detailed explanations as why, in which Williams excelled: hospitality, loyalty, humility, integrity, productivity, sensitivity and spirituality.
After completing the piece, Idleman he turned to his wife, Kaylene, and asked her for an additional tribute in the shortest possible sentence. Her sentence was, "Meredith enhances everything."
Taking over some of the duties held by Meredith Williams will be Dru Ashwell, executive director of college advancement, who will be the alumni director and Compass editor; and Jim Dalrymple, associate director of college advancement, who will be the events director.