Known as a “true community banker,” Bruce Williams was highly regarded within the local banking community, where he had a successful career that spanned more than 50 years.
Starting at the young age of 17, Williams either rode his bicycle or caught rides for a 10-mile commute from his family’s home in Stockton to Lakeland, where he worked at Farmers and Merchants Bank.
He later moved to First State Bank and Trust [now Synovus] in Valdosta and advanced from bank teller to executive vice president and chairman of the board.
“Bruce was very knowledgeable in the banking industry,” said Bill Cowart, Synovus market president for Valdosta. “He was an exemplary employee and did a lot for banks in our community by pushing technology and getting banks to where they needed to be. He shared that knowledge with other banks.”
A life-long faithful and devoted member of the Stockton Baptist Church, Williams served as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, choir director, and treasurer and had a passion for helping children.
The Greater Valdosta United Way and several partner agencies received donations from Williams’ estate.
“He wanted to create long-term stability for the United Way,” said Michael Smith, GVUW executive director. “Bruce Williams’ gift has greatly impacted our ability to grow and expand our capacity to help partner agencies and people in need throughout our community.”
In 2021, the United Way named its office, located at 1609 N. Patterson Street, Valdosta, in honor of Williams and established the Bruce Williams Impact Grant, which provides $50,000 in annual grants to United Way partner agencies.
Smith said the matching grants will fund tangible items that add capacity and unexpected needs for GVUW partner agencies.
“He truly created a legacy of giving that will continue to benefit the United Way and a lot of other charities in our community,” Cowart said. “It’s truly is amazing how his gift will positively impact so many local charities.”