By Dorothy Inman-Johnson
Special to the Outlook
Frank has very deep roots in Tallahassee and Leon County. His great, great grandfather, Edward Johnson, was one of the 9,089 slaves freed in Leon County on May 20, 1865 when news of the Emancipation Proclamation finally reached the North Florida panhandle. The family is not sure how he acquired so much land, when former slaves were only promised 40 acres and a mule; but Edward Johnson passed on 100 acres of land to his 18 year old grandson, Henry Hill, upon his death. Henry Hill was Frank Williams’ grandfather.
Many acres of this land is still owned by Henry’s descendents, including the Henry Hill Park on Centerville Road where Emancipation Day has been celebrated for 43 years by the Hill, Jefferson, and Jenkins families with friends and community. Frank is a well known member of the family, more due to his contributions to community service than his family’s history. He is a highly respected businessman as Co-Principal-In- Charge of Florida Developers, Incorporated. He is just as highly respected and influential as a community and political leader. Though he has never held political office, many local Democratic elected officials owe thanks to Frank Williams for his Get-Out-the-Vote efforts and community connections. As a result, the Emancipation Day annual celebration at Henry Hill Park has become a “must do stop” for local political candidates. In addition, Frank has been an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention in each Presidential election year since 1996; including the 2008 and 2012 conventions that picked Barack Obama to be the Democratic standard bearer.
Though a Leon County native, Frank’s early adult years were spent in California where he studied Business at Merritt College in Oakland and the University of California Berkeley. Later, he and his three brothers_ Patrick, Ralph, and John_ were persuaded by their father, Herbert Williams Sr., to move back to Tallahassee and start their own construction business. Florida Developers Incorporated was started in 1980; and continues to be among the leading minority businesses in the Big Bend area of Florida.
While committed to family and the success of the family business, he is just as devoted to community service. As a Rotarian, he lives by the Rotary Motto of “Service Above Self.” He has received the CACAA Recognition and Chairman’s Award for fundraising efforts to assist low-income residents; Legal Services of North Florida Appreciation Award for contributions to the Endowment Campaign; and was the winner of the Tallahassee Democrat Newspaper’s Volunteer of the Year Award. He is a founding member of the Capital City Chamber of Commerce, Henry Hill Foundation, Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, and a charter member of the Southside Rotary where he has served as President-Elect and President. In addition, Frank serves on numerous governmental and non-profit advisory boards; unselfishly giving time and resources to benefit others.
He has been married to Yvette Williams, known affectionately as “Vet”, for 41 years. They have one son and two grandchildren. He is a faithful member of St. Peter Primitive Baptist Church, and continues to work hard for his church, community, and business while being dedicated to his family. His mother, Ms. Gertrude Hill, would be very proud.