It would be tough to find many alumni whose university has meant as much to them as Louisiana Tech has to Milton Williams.
Along those same lines, one would be hard-pressed to find an alumnus that has meant as much to his university.
Williams, a 1944 graduate of Louisiana Tech, has been a lifelong supporter of his alma mater in innumerable ways. He was a founding member of the Louisiana Tech University Foundation, a longtime member of the athletic council, and a benefactor of the university in just about every way imaginable. Or, in his words, he's been "president of everything around (Tech) at one time or another."
Following his service in the United States Navy during World War II, he founded Williams Pressure Service Company, the first hydrostatic pipeline testing company in the industry, in 1951. And his invention of a device to perform these tests made him famous in the oil and gas industry.
"They were laying oil and gas pipelines all across the country, and they had to be tested before they could go into service," Williams said. "There wasn't anyone in this business, and there was a need for it. So I had this idea how to unitize this equipment and move it, rig it up, test it and move on. It was kind of like a traveling circus.
"Texas Eastern was going to build a pipeline from Mississippi to Pennsylvania, and they needed to test it. So they gave us the project to figure out how to test it. I'd been thinking about it for 5-6 months, so I drew it up and took it to the engineer. They said they'd put me in business. I didn't have but about $600, and I needed about $80,000 to build this thing."
Crowe Drilling Co. put the money up and helped Williams get the equipment together, and the company is still in business.
His invention and his company made a direct, profound impact on Tech athletics when he hired Bulldog football players to work for him during the summer.
"We started out when A.L. Williams came to Tech as a freshman," Milton Williams said. "After that, every summer for about 10 years, we worked 8-10 athletes in our testing crews all over the country. A lot of them are still like family to me."
Bobby Aillet, a member of the Tech Sports Hall of Fame and a close personal friend of Williams, said that these were no token jobs.
"These were real jobs," Aillet said. "Those boys worked hard. They weren't like the ones that some folks have trouble with these days."
His influence on Louisiana Tech athletics extended far beyond giving football players jobs, however. He served on the athletics council for nearly 40 years and was a member of every committee that hired athletic directors and coaches during that time.
"I was on the committee that hired Maxie Lambright," Williams said. "And I guess the last one I was on was when we hired the new women's basketball coach (Chris Long)."
As an alumnus of the engineering school, he was instrumental in starting that department's foundation and, eventually, the university foundation.
"At that time, the general alumni didn't want to get involved in something like that," Williams said. "So we started one at the engineering school. That started working, so then the alumni came back and said, `Hey, we need something like that.'
"Barry Henry was the head of alumni at that time, and he was going to try to have a fundraiser. But we didn't have enough money to pay the postage. Today, the foundation has $50 or $60 million in it."
He said that one of his proudest accomplishments was his involvement, along with former university president Dr. F. Jay Taylor, in the beginning of the now-legendary Lady Techster basketball program.
"Dr. Taylor and I had decided that we needed to gain some national recognition in one of the minor sports," Williams said. "We figured the quickest and most inexpensive way to get national recognition would be women's basketball because it was the up-and-coming sport at the time. I think seeing the Lady Techster basketball program grow like it did was one of the proudest things for me."
From employing football players to hiring coaches, from serving on the athletic council to jumpstarting the Lady Techster basketball program, Milton Williams has held many titles as a vital part of Louisiana Tech?s athletic success over the past 40 years. And on Oct. 20, he can add another title to his list.
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