In honor of Jerome Williams
Jerome Williams, In Memoriam
The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. We are deeply saddened by the death of our dear friend, colleague, and mentor Jerome Williams. As a scholar, his record of award-winning and otherwise notable publications stretches back over 35 years, beginning interestingly enough with an ACR Special Volume in 1985. He has published in every notable journal in the discipline, and many outside the discipline. It is said that the ultimate measure of a person is not where they stand in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk position, prestige, and even life for the welfare of others. In dangerous valleys and hazardous pathways, they will lift the bruised and beaten to a higher and more noble life. These words perfectly capture the ethos, spirit and values that Jerome embodied every day. He might have chosen the well-trodden path toward traditional scholarship. Instead, he chose the one less travelled, devoting himself to diversifying the field and bettering our understanding of race in the marketplace. His most recent research with numerous co-authors on marketplace discrimination, particularly in banking, directly informs both corporate policy and public policy at the federal level. As a teacher, he instructed undergraduates, masters and doctoral students, and executives in dozens of courses related to advertising and marketing literally all over the planet. As an administrator, his leadership on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and implementation of meaningful institutional reforms to that end, at multiple universities, most recently at Rutgers University, is renowned in business education.
Remarkable though all these accomplishments certainly are, their impact on the discipline is miniscule compared to his impact as a mentor and colleague to so many, including these authors. As a mentor he touched the life of every mentee with a steady guiding hand, a gentle disposition, and a kind heart. He greeted us all with the same welcoming and humbly inviting embrace, no matter our status in the field. Moreover, he lived out his avowed commitment to social justice and equity through diligent service, working to pave the way for others to follow in his prodigious footsteps, particularly those of us in racialized minority groups. He worked so diligently at this that in 2009 the American Marketing Foundation created a multicultural mentorship award and chose him, with his longtime friends and compatriots William Qualls and Thaddeus Spratlen, as its namesakes. Jerome’s accomplishments in the field are too many to name, with the most recent being a well-deserved and overdue induction into the 2021 class of Fellows at the American Marketing Association. Most importantly, Jerome did all these things while moving in a spirit of grace and loving kindness. And it is in that spirit that we will remember him most fondly. Although you now soar with the angels Jerome, you will always live in our hearts. We love you brother.
Americus Reed, II and David Crockett