More than a custodian
Long-time Burleson employee honored with portrait at school
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
The students at F.E. Burleson Elementary School never met Charlie Williams, but most of their parents and grandparents surely remember the kind man who swept the halls, stoked the furnace, and befriended children at the school for two generations.
And now, thanks to the efforts of the Hartselle Historical Society and local artist Mitch Howell-Coon, Charlie's legacy lives on.
A custodian at Hartselle Elementary School (now F.E. Burleson) from 1925-1962, Charlie not only kept the school spotless until the age of 88, but also provided students with a source of comfort and companionship.
"We all learned a lot from Charlie, even though he never taught here," David Burleson, son of F.E. "Fessor" Burleson said. "He was more than a custodian. He was an inspirational leader."
Burleson, historian for the Hartselle Historical Society, recently unveiled a watercolor portrait of Charlie by Howell-Coon at the elementary school. Charlie's son, Shelvie Williams, 91, of Hartselle, grandson Shelvie Williams Jr. and great granddaughter Linda Williams Chapman attended the ceremony.
Charlie was the father of 14 children. Shelvie is his only living son.
"It's a real honor," Shelvie said. "He would have been real proud. Looks just like him."
Burleson said Charlie's portrait will hang in the school's main hallway alongside that of his father.
"It just seems right, since they were so close in life," Burleson said. "Charlie planned to retire when he was 87, but my father asked him to stay one more year until he retired, too, and Charlie did."
Principal Jim Grammer said he is excited that students for generations to come will be able to see the portrait of Charlie everyday as they pass through the halls of F.E. Burleson Elementary School and learn about the man who made school a special place for so many people in Hartselle.
"I'm just proud to say that I was touched by people like Charlie and 'Fessor,'" Grammer said. "That's what makes us unique."