The jewelry industry is mourning the loss of a kind, honorable leader with the recent death of Ralph Williams. As an 18-year employee of Gabriel & Co., past president of the 24 Karat Club SEUS and Southern Jewelry Travelers Association, Ralph loved helping people in our industry, and was passionate about the advancement of our trade.
Described as a salesman of the highest integrity and an old-school rep; Ralph placed the highest value on serving his retailers. That may be why so many of his customers had such a high level of respect for him:
“Ralph was my sales rep for more than 20 years,” recalls Harris Botnick, owner of Worthmore Jewelers in Atlanta. “He taught us about the business and let us toss ideas off of him as we grew our store. We just celebrated 20 years in business and as we reflect back on it we realize Ralph, and his wife Kathy, have been an important part of our success. Ralph worked to help our store be successful, even as he worked to promote Gabriel. He was a full-service rep!”
Ralph opened Williams Jewelers in 1975 after returning from active military duty and operated as a retail owner for 10 years until he answered the call of sales. Starting with Jewelmont, and then on to Simon Golub before landing at Gabriel in 1995; Ralph thrived as a traveling jewelry salesman.
“Ralph was a veteran in the business whom we credit with getting Gabriel into the Internet market,” said Jack Gabriel, CEO Gabriel. “Kindness is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Ralph. He was steadfast and good, both as an employee, a husband and a father. It’s hard to loose someone we’ve been with for so long, but we had a good time. We pray for his family and know it will be especially difficult on them because Ralph was such a great man. But he is with the Lord now and is in a better place.”
“My friend, Ralph Williams was the ultimate southern gentleman,” said 24 Karat Club President Robert Loving. “His love for the jewelry industry was unprecedented. His clients viewed him as a business partner and friend, not just a salesman. I am proud that he considered me one of his friends.”
Anyone close to Ralph has a clear picture of his love for his girls. Daughters Kim Williams, a Supervisory Agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Libby Williams-Brown, assistant show director for The Atlanta Jewelry Show, speak of his unconditional love and continued support. Both girls were ‘top of mind’ for Ralph as was his beloved granddaughter Ella. Kathy Beall, Ralph’s wife, industry consultant and trainer was also by his side the last 13 years and credits him with showing her what unconditional love actually looked like. “My precious husband was always a gentleman. Ralph was fair, kind and respectful to everyone – what a wonderful way to remember him,” notes Kathy.
Those who watched him struggle through both Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2001 and, most recently, brain cancer are thankful for his relief, even while we grieve. We will continue to remember the long-time jewelry veteran, known for his warm smile and genuine concern for his family and friends both in and out of our industry as we try to repair the huge hole left in the very fabric of the industry.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of Ralph’s favorite charities: Best Friends Animal Society & Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, 5001 Angel Canyon Rd, Kanab, UT 84741, (435) 644-2001, or a charity of your choice.
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