Kenneth Otha Williams, 72, of Brooklyn, New York, passed away unexpectedly at his home on Thursday, January 24, 2019. He was born September 29, 1946 in Buena Vista, Mississippi, the son of Curtis and Evelyn (Kendricks) Williams.
Ken accepted Christ at the age of nine and was a member of New Zion Baptist Church, Beloit, Wisconsin, until he left for college. He graduated in 1964 from Beloit Memorial High School and attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In 1970, he married Julie Spanton. After graduating from UWW in 1971, He worked full-time in regional theatre companies. Based in Minneapolis, he was on the artistic staff of the Children's Theatre Company where he created many memorable roles. He was a regular at Chanhassen Dinner Theatre in the musical productions he so loved. He also performed at Dudley Riggs Brave New Workshop, Illusion Theatre, the Cricket Theatre, and Shoestring Playhouse. He was a regular contributor as a solo vocalist at Lake Harriet Concerts in the Park summer series, singing with the Minnesota Orchestra. During these years, he also appeared in a rock opera in Madison, and did shows at the Arizona Theatre Company, and the Derby Dinner Playhouse in Indiana.
In 1980, he moved to New York City, where he continued his involvement in the theatre. Over the years he performed at the Darien Dinner Theatre in Connecticut, in national tours of Jesus Christ Superstar and A Little Night Music, and Off-Broadway in staged readings of new plays. More recently, he enjoyed working as an extra in films and TV shows shot in NYC.
Ken is survived by his daughter, Jennifer (Rosalind Battle) Williams; his mother, Evelyn Williams; brother, Adolphus Williams; sisters, Paula (Willie) Leavy, Lossie (Richard) Davis, Patricia Foster, and Francine Hinchen; his ex-wife Julie (Gordon Nakagawa) Williams; three granddaughters; six great-grandchildren; God Daughter, Kendalyn Cooks; Aunt, Mary Williams; Uncles, Dock Kendricks, Sr., Harvey Kendricks, and George Kendricks; his close friend Lora Kelberg; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives, and friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Curtis C. Williams; brother-in-law, Arsheal Hinchen, Jr.; and niece Amy Harper-Collier.
Memorial services are, 12:00 p.m., Saturday, February 9, 2019 at Emmanuel Baptist Church 1151 East Grand Avenue, Beloit, Wisconsin 53511 with Reverend Rodney R. Hayes officiating. Hansen-Gravitt Funeral Home, 424 Prospect Street, Beloit, Wisconsin is honored to be assisting the family. Online condolences can be shared at www.hansengravitt.com.