MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Willie Williams' death left friends with deep sadness. Now, as they learn the horrific details of his murder, many are simply in shock. One thing is for certain, he had a huge impact on his community.
"There's not many people in Moss Point who haven't been touched in some way by Mr. Williams," said Wiliams' decades long friend Donna Rogers.
Williams' impact was easy to see as soon as word of his murder Friday began to spread and the community started mourning.
"He was a pillar in the community, real passionate about education, passionate about family, and seeing Moss Point in a positive light," said Rogers.
Those who knew him describe Williams as a friend, mentor, educator, and leader. He's known best for his role in the Moss Point School District, where his students were referred to as 'Red Hot Learners'.
"He was our Ron Clark - he got the kids excited about learning," Rogers said.
Williams wore many hats in the district - serving as principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent.
"They moved him around the district to fix things and that's what he did," said former student Jhai Keeton.
"Where there was ineffectiveness in the schools, where the schools were not coming up to the state standards, where there was a discipline problem, they sent Mr. Williams," said Moss Point Mayor Billy Broomfield.
Former students say Williams represented something the community is missing most.
"A true leader, one that brings a different respect and a different energy and one who was able to command respect from parents, students and teachers," Keeton said.
After Williams' stint in education - he served as funeral director at the Guardian Angels Funeral Home in Pascagoula, where he was known for being meticulous and compassionate.
"Everything was done in a certain order and we worked as a team and he was just fun to be around," said Guardian Angels co-owner Symone Booth.
The funeral home will be handling Wiliams' arrangements. His funeral will be Saturday, August 27 at First Missionary Baptist Church in Moss Point at 10 a.m.