Elmer Dean Williams

June 17, 2017

Charlotte - Elmer Dean Williams, an exceptional and beloved man, passed away peacefully at home on June 17, 2017 at the age of 74. 

He was born September 17, 1942 in Lewellen, Nebraska and spent his childhood there until leaving to attend Chadron State College.  After graduating in 1965 with a degree in Education, he went on to earn his Master of Arts Degree in 1967 from Colorado State University.  While at Colorado State, he worked as both a classroom teacher and a teacher education supervisor in the Laboratory School there.  He often reminisced about this rewarding experience as a defining moment in his career and spoke of it with great fondness during the rest of his life. 

He eventually left the Laboratory School to pursue his PhD at the University of Washington, graduating with a degree in Geography and Economic Education in 1971.  After leaving the University of Washington, he spent the majority of his professional career at the University of Georgia as a Professor of Social Studies in the College of Education.  During that time, Dean was very involved with and was at one time Executive Director of the Georgia Council on Social Studies. 

While teaching at Georgia, he was also able to take part in rewarding travel experiences, spending extended time in both Jakarta, Indonesia and Kathmandu, Nepal, working to set up teacher education programs.  It was during those early experiences that he first acquired the travel bug that would stay with him for the rest of his life.  After his retirement in 1997, he enthusiastically embarked on many travel adventures and eventually visited well over fifty countries on six continents, an endeavor which earned him the title of Million Miler with Delta Airlines. 

He met his future husband, Eric Lien, in 2000 and moved to Charlotte in 2002 to officially begin their life together, purchasing their first home in 2003 and marrying in 2014.  Dean always provided financial support to his alma mater, Chadron State College and also donated regularly to local charities, Friendship Trays and Classroom Central, Inc.

Dean is survived by his husband, Eric Lien, his dog, Cody, and many close friends, who will be forever graced by his presence among them.  In lieu of flowers, anyone wishing to honor Dean’s memory can do so by making a donation to Friendship Trays, at 2401-A Distribution St. Charlotte, NC  28203 or Classroom Central, Inc. at 2116 Wilkinson Blvd., Charlotte, NC  28208.

Share your memories & condolences


  • Steven Wang

    Deepest sympathy. Dr. Williams will be greatly missed.

    Steve & Charity Wang

  • Don Schneider

    Elmer was a department colleague and friend of mine at the University of Georgia. He was an excellent instructor and a great worker and leader in organizations such as the Georgia Council for the Social Studies. I have many fine memories of him -- his friendliness, openness, willingness to take on projects and carry through on them.

  • Larry Thompson

    Elmer was a great friend and a wonderful travelling companion. We saw man of the world's wonders together and have kept in touch all these years. He will be missed. My sincerest condolences to Eric for his loss.

  • David Martin

    Elmer served at the University of Georgia Center for Economic Education for twenty years (1976-1996) and authored and edited many publications used by thousands of teachers across the State of Georgia during that time. He also conducted the highest quality teacher workshops. His legacy will live on in Georgia and across the country. David Martin, Executive Director, Georgia Council on Economic Education.

  • Marie Wilson

    Elmer was a wonderful colleague and a good friend. We laughed a lot together over the years. I am very saddened to learn of his passing and send deepest sympathies to Eric, their family and friends.

  • David Bolton

    I meet Elmer when I worked at Belk in Athens Ga through a co worker Clyde and house many years when Clyde and Elmer went on trips. I went gymnasticsar UGA. I am just shock that Elmer passed.

  • Beverly Armento

    Deepest condolences to Eric and all of Elmer's friends and family. I have many fond memories of our work together in Social Studies/Economic Education in Georgia.