Clyde Williams Succumbs: Dedicated to SBVC & Community
By Dianne Anderson
It’s hard to tell just how many thousands of Black students that Clyde Williams ushered on toward higher education at San Bernardino Valley College in over four decades in outreach and recruitment at the campus.
Shalita Tillman arrived there back in 2000 and remembers walking down the hallway as a new employee, and how Williams was quick to welcome her. He schooled her on the ins and outs of what it was like to work at the campus – what all to do, and what not to do.
For many years, he was her reliable guide and source of encouragement.
“He was always honest,” she said. “Just showing me how certain things work. He told me something that I’ll never forget – that no matter what happens, don’t let anybody change who you are. I held on to that,” said Tillman, manager of CalWORKs & Workforce Development Department, San Bernardino Valley College.
Clyde Williams passed away earlier this month. He was 68 years old.
While earning an associate degree in Liberal Arts at the college, Williams had worked his way up through the ranks as a leader, always dedicated to Black students in the struggle to access services.
“That was his baby, that was his passion. He helped all people, but he knew that our Black communities are very underrepresented and he was very strong about making sure they were able to get the information they needed to change their lives,” said Tillman, who has worked in the CalWORKs department for 21 years.
She described Williams as more than a long-time friend, he was like a family member with a tremendous lifetime impact on both herself and her husband, James Tillman.
He demonstrated a deep personal concern and a special quality to reach people, making sure that everyone had an equal opportunity for exposure and access to the college and programs. His gift was how he could relate, connect and engage with anyone at any age and any level. He understood how to work with the administrative process.
“It’s very hard to find somebody that is born with that type of quality, with that automatic relationship with a person, no matter if they are the richest of the rich or poorest of the poor. He knew how to connect with that person on their level,” she said.
Paul Bratulin, spokesperson for the San Bernardino Valley College, said that Mr. Williams not only had a passion for recruiting students to attend SBVC, but he also served as president of the California School Employee Association and the Black Faculty and Staff Association at SBCCD.
“Clyde was part of the SBVC and SBCCD family for over 40 years and was instrumental in reaching some of our most under-served communities, helping generations of students believe that they could succeed in college,” Bratulin said. “He is loved and remembered by many of us on campus and the district office, and will be dearly missed.”
Even after he retired, those closest to him say he was always in recruiting mode, both on and off the job.
Danny Tillman recalls in 1981 when Mr. Williams worked as a campus custodian, but was also doing student outreach to get more kids into the college.
“We use to have Phi Beta Sigma fraternity parties, Clyde would work the parties. We became good friends. Throughout my whole career, he always supported me and he was very active in the community,” said Tillman, vice president of San Bernardino City Unified Board of Education.
When Tillman held his Black Future Leaders program golf tournaments, Williams always donated backpacks from Valley College, which he personally filled with treats for the kids.
“Anything supportive, that’s what Clyde was about. Because of his demeanor and background, Clyde could reach people that a lot of your professional counselors at Valley College just couldn’t reach,” Tillman said.
Mr. Williams was highly connected and went above and beyond on getting resources to the underserved community. Tillman said. Many people were helped during Williams’ time at the campus.
“I guarantee that a lot of people got educated at Valley College that wouldn’t have been educated or received any type of higher education if it wasn’t for Clyde,” he said.
An outpouring of love and condolences on Facebook speaks to the heart that Williams had for the community, and the impact that he had on so many lives.
“Thank you everyone for the kind words and prayers about my father. He loved his people and community more than words. His presence will be missed but we can honor his legacy by continuing to do the work which is in ensuring the success of students and serving our community,” wrote his daughter, Shanna Cerise.
Westside Action Group President, Stan Amiri Futch, wrote, “So sorry to hear about this “take no prisoners” brother who was a great friend to my brother and I. May he be at peace.
Alton Garrett, also a past president of WAG, added, “I am so sorry to hear this. My prayers and condolences to his family. Rest in heaven my friend.”
Community activist Beverly Jones-Wright wrote, “Oh my, say it ain’t so, Mr Valley College himself, such a delightful personality, passionate, always pushing for what was right!”
Rikke Van Johnson, former Sixth Ward San Bernardino Councilman, wrote, “Clyde, the Man, the Myth, the Legend. Truly enjoyed all the times I spent with him. Comfort and prayers to his family. Rest in Power!”
Viewing: Thursday, September 8, at 4:00pm–8:00pm
Mt. View Mortuary & Cemetery
570 East Highland Avenue
San Bernardino, CA 92404
Memorial: Friday, September 9, at 2:00pm–4:00pm
Repass: Friday, September 9, at 4:00pm–7:00pm
SBVC Business Conference Center (B-100)