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April 28, 2000     Cape Gazette
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April 28, 2000

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CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, April 28 - May 4, 2000 - 23 Author Hoffecker to sign book on Williams in Millsboro May, Set against the background of Sussex County, as well as Wash- ington, D.C., "Honest John Williams: U.S. Senator from Delaware," the latest book by Delaware historian Carol Hof- fecker, Richard Professor of His- tory at the University of Delaware, is now available in bookstores statewide. Hoffecker will sign copies of her book from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday, May 4, at the Williams Conference Center, 105 State Street, Millsboro. The event is free and open to the public; light refreshments will be served. The conference center is the for- mer home of the late Sen. Williams and his wife, Elsie, and became part of the Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens campus, after her death in ! 990. A formal introduction of Hof- fecker by another noted Delaware historian, Dr. William Williams, will take place at 12:30 p.m., fol- lowed by remarks from Hoffecker about Sen. Williams' biography. A study of American politics af- ter World War II, providing inter- esting insight into the history of U.S. government, "Honest John Williams," a quintessential Delaware book, published by the University of Delaware Press, fo- cuses on the career of the man from southern Delaware who achieved national prominence as the 'conscience of the Senate.' 'iAs a Delaware historian, I have mostly written about north- ern Delaware. When the late John Williams' papers were given to the University library and cata- logued by Rebecca Johnson Melvin, I did some research in the collection for a book on the Feder- al District Court of Delaware. It then occurred to me that here was an opportunity to learn and write about southern Delaware as em- bodied in the life of one of its most distinguished citizens - John Williams," said Hoffecker. The abundance of material was over- whelming - it took a few years for Melvin to catalog the files and 45 scrapbooks, and then almost 10 years for Hoffecker to write. Although Williams' formal edu- cation ended after he completed his third year at Frankford High School, he had a 'gift for arith- metical calculation, which be- came the basis for his success, both in business and in govern- Trish Vernon photos Rehoboth VFW contributes to causes Rehoboth Beach Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 7447 presented checks to two worthy causes on Tuesday, April 18, the Friends of the Lightship Overfalls in Lewes and the Dis- abled American Veterans Chapter 8. Above, (l-r) Post 7447 Commander John A. Smith, presents a check in the amount of $500 to Joe Kehne, DAV department treasurer, and Bernard Doherty, Chapter 8 commander, while Rehoboth VFW 7447 Quartermaster Everett Beach looks on. Below, Smith and Beach present a check in the amount of $500 to Gary Stabley, coordinator of restoration of the Lewes's Lightship Overfalls, to be used to restore the historic vessel ment," Hoffecker writes. He and his brother Harry, estab- lished the Millsboro Feed Co. in the 1920s and began acquiring re- al estate holdings in the 1930s. This was the beginning of his suc- cessful career as a farmer, Poultry raiser and feed merchant. Williams was the product of an agrarian society, which is .fast dis- appearing as eastern Sussex County changes to more of a re- sort and retirement area, Hoffeck- er said. Although he was not judg- mental, William had great integri- ty and a sense of right and wrong, which stemmed from his strong Methodist background. In 1946, when the Republicans were searching for a candidate to run against the popular Democrat Jim Tunneil, (Williams' personal lawyer), Williams, a political neo- phyte who was virtually unknown outside of Millsboro, threw his hat in the ring. He won and served in the Senate from 1947 until his retirement in January 197 l,lwhen he was succeeded by current Sen. William Roth. Never flamboyant, but retiring and soft-spoken, Williams was nevertheless an effective senator. "His name did not appear on any landmark legislation, he led no crusades, nor was he...a kingmak- er. Williams' significance came from his willingness to devote time and effort to analyzing the federal budget in search of waste and fraud," Hoffecker writes. His patient, thorough ground- work as he investigated the Bu- reau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and other government agencies earned him respect. But he was the nemesis of such men as "Pious Paul" Doyle, "Marble Head" Mal- one and others who, with their boss from the San Francisco BIR office, were indicted and convict- ed of several crimes, thanks in part to Williams. Probably the 'capstone' of Wiiliains' career was his investigation of Bobby Baker, the secretary to the majori- ty leader, then Lyndon Johnson. Bakei" amassed a fortune from in- fluence peddling and eventually ended up in prison.