Our county’s other Olympic Gold Medal winner . . . Howard Williams

By Butch Dale

Last week I told you about Jim Dunbar, a Darlington graduate who won a gold medal in rowing at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. Now here is another Montgomery County boy who also won an Olympic gold medal that same year . . . Howard “Howie” Williams, who graduated from New Ross High School in 1945.

Howie played varsity basketball all four years for the Blue Jays, and he could do it all . . . shoot, rebound, play defense, assist the open man and steal the ball. Because of his skills, Howie headed the list on the coaches’ All-County Team in his senior year. After graduating, Howie attended Purdue, where he was a starter all four years. During his last three years with the Boilermakers, Howie established several Big Ten records and was voted to the All-Conference teams his junior and senior years. In a game against rival Indiana University, Howie made the winning basket as the buzzer sounded . . . while sitting on the floor! His teammates also honored him as Most Valuable Player those two years, in addition to being Captain his last year. One of his greatest honors was being named as an honorable mention All-American in 1950.

Howie was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers, but he turned that down to accept a job with Caterpillar Tractor Company, which sponsored an AAU team. He played three years, and was named an AAU All-American all three years, also receiving the Los Angeles Times award as the AAU player of the year in 1952. Trying out for the U.S. Olympic basketball team, Howie made the winning basket at Madison Square Garden in the playoffs. The U.S. team headed to Helsinki, where they faced stiff competition. However, the team was successful, even defeating a strong Russian team twice to bring home the gold medal.

In 1971, Montgomery County citizens voted for their all-time best basketball players, and Howie received the most votes for the “Old-Timers Team”…those who played from 1911 to 1946. The other top four were Homer Stonebraker (Wingate 1914), Pete Moore (Waynetown 1945), Ray Greve (Waveland 1939) and Leland “Bill” Melvin (Alamo 1939). Howie was named to the Indiana High School Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary Team in 1970 as one of the most outstanding basketball players in Indiana history.

Well, there you go . . . two smalltown boys from Montgomery County, Howie Williams and Jim Dunbar . . . Olympic gold medal winners!

John “Butch” Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 32 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.