FORSYTH COUNTY -- On Aug. 8, Forsyth County resident James Hallard “Hoy” Williams celebrated his 100th birthday, albeit somewhat reluctantly.
“I think I’d rather not, if I had my wishes” Williams joked. “But people certainly have been mighty nice. I’ve had so many cards and everything. I appreciate it, I really appreciate it.”
Williams has spent most of his years in Georgia. He was born in the West End community of Atlanta and attended the Darlington School in Rome.
He went on to graduate from Georgia Tech after first spending some time at the University of Alabama. He later settled in his current home on Lake Lanier.
“I really love this lake, and used to spend as much time in as I possibly could,” he said. “I have two boats that I’ve had, and I can’t run either one of them now, but I have two boys that can.
“I guess I could be doing other things now too. But at my age, I’m afraid I wouldn’t get too far.”
There was a period of his life where Williams lived outside of Georgia. During World War II, Williams was drafted into the Army, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge under Maj. Gen. Withers A. Burress, who Williams still reveres, and barely missed another famous fight.
“I was with 100th Infantry Division,” he said. “I missed D-Day. I was in the boat coming over, and we went into some little place and pulled in with the whole division in there, because submarines had really been hitting places around there.
“That’s one reason I missed, being on the run. And thank God.”
Williams fought across Germany and France, and nonchalantly referred to German bombers as “things we had to put up with.”
“I was in France, and we had a found a place where we could bunk,” he said. “I was coming out the door right out on the street, and I heard this buzz. I looked up and that dang plane was right up there … I didn’t walk away, I ran away or I was afraid he might come back.”
After the war, Williams went on to operate a business and played saxophone and clarinet in a band for more than 20 years.
He credited his longevity to his beverage of choice — martinis.
“That was my drink, on occasion” Williams said. “I did at one time, I figured I was drinking too much and I cut it out. Then, as I got older, I said, ‘I think I can handle it now.’ I thoroughly enjoy a good mixed drink.”
Though as much as he loves, music, martinis and boating, none compare to Williams to his wife Ann, who even at 100 described him as a flirt.
“I don’t know what I’d do without her,” Williams said. “I was one lucky boy to find her. She is something, I tell you. She’s a smart gal.”