Remembering Longtime Fair Havenite, Jeweler Horner Williams, 88

“A primary attribute of fine jewelry is its unaltered beauty as time passes on, and through the years a finely designed precious gem acts as the catalyst to remind us of grand occasions past and ties and ages together.” ~ Horner Williams

A gem is what longtime Fair Havenite and area jeweler Horner S. Williams was to the many whose lives he touched, whether it be with the creation of a piece of fine jewelry or his refined gentlemanly presence. With the first announcement of his passing on Dec. 31 at 88 through now, messages of condolence and appreciation have flooded social media saying so, in so many words.

As with his own quote, his presence in life was like that of a treasured piece of jewelry — solid, beautiful, unaltered by time’s sometimes merciless disdain, an embodiment of precious past occasions and the ties to all that’s good in the present. “Finely designed,” like his jewelry, is how those who passed through his life saw him.

Many in the area have a piece of fine jewelry designed by him that will be worn for years to come and likely be passed along, through the ages, always a reminder of all that glistens in the good of one man who liked to create beautiful things with a verbose simplicity. Unscathed, aged finery.

Horner’s life, like his creations and actions, is set to shine in remembrance on Saturday, Jan. 15, at 2 p.m. at Pilgrim Baptist Church, 172 Shrewsbury Ave, Red Bank. Covid protocols will be strictly followed. The service will also be live streamed on pilgrim-baptist.org.

His service is set to bring together “family members and friends who will miss his strong spirit, bright eyes, and infectious laugh,” family said in his obituary.

Here’s more from the obituary about Horner Williams …

Born on May 7, 1933, in Henderson, N.C., Horner was the child of Lee Jasper and Polly Levister Williams.

His early childhood was spent in Red Bank, where he attended public schools with his six brothers and sisters. 

At the age of 11, he began working at Seldin’s Jewelry Store on Broad Street in Red Bank polishing silver, refilling lighters, and repairing eyeglass frames. He attended Red Bank High School where he especially enjoyed participating in the photo club …

In 1957, he married his high school sweetheart, Julia Terry, and they settled in Fair Haven right next door to Julia’s mother, Dorothy Terry. That same year, Horner opened his own store, Monmouth Jewelry Service, which later became Horner Williams Custom Jewelers — a mainstay in Red Bank for more than 40 years.

Horner loved visiting with his family and always had a story, a lesson, or a joke to share. He touched many people throughout his life through his store, his community service, his church work, reflexology, counseling services, and more.

Family of Horner S. Williams in his obituary

He graduated in 1950 and served in the US Army, stationed in Louisiana, during the Korean War.

“As a gemologist, goldsmith, jewelry designer, and watchmaker, Horner had the artistic ability and technical skill to design and create any piece you could imagine. He was greatly respected throughout the state for his talent and craftsmanship.”

He served as president of the New Jersey Retail Jewelers Association and held other positions in that organization as well. He loved decorating his store for the seasons and was a proud winner of the Bulova Window Display contest and the Speidel Sweepstakes Award in 1970.

Horner sought to educate himself in many areas of interest. Through the Gemological Institute of America, he became a Graduate Gemologist. He attended New York University extension classes in Business Management, and he graduated from the Monmouth Bible Institute. He was also a certified reflexologist and a success counselor.

Horner was a lifelong member of Pilgrim Baptist Church in Red Bank where he served as the Sunday School Superintendent. He was a man of great faith, and in 2011, he was honored to be given the title of Minister Emeritus by the church.

Horner and Julia had two children — Dorothy Melissa and Horner Steven. They raised their children in Fair Haven, and working in the store was a family affair.

Outside of work, Horner had many interests, including tennis, snow skiing, horseback riding, world history, reading, writing, and cooking. He was involved in many professional and social organizations including Jewelers of America, The Rotary Club, and The Red Bank Men’s Club. As a Mason, he was a member of Celestial Lodge 36 in Red Bank.

He served on the Board of the Red Bank YMCA for a number of years and was a dedicated volunteer at Lunch Break for decades. He even led a prayer group and counseled residents in his nursing home.

Horner was predeceased by: his beloved wife of 29 years, Julia Terry Williams; his parents, Lee Jasper and Polly Williams; and his brothers McCormick, Otis, and Thomas Williams.

He is survived by: his children, Dorothy Melissa, of Fair Haven, and Horner Steven and his wife Sira, of Red Bank; his sisters, Ethel Palmer, of Red Bank, Almentia Williams, of Eatontown, and Edith Battle, of Neptune; his sister-in-law, Rita Williams, of Neptune; his grandchildren, Joshua, Arianna, Cameron, Kayla, Julia, and Maya; his godchildren, Ronald Williams, Bonita Williams and Betra Rodriguez, and a host of others.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Pilgrim Baptist Church, Lunch Break, or the YMCA in his memory.

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management