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Charles Williams was a man of many roles: military veteran of Vietnam, Purple Heart recipient, first local African American building inspector, teacher, church deacon, NAACP president, Lake Helen city commissioner, and civil-rights activist working in North Carolina alongside the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Before his death in early 2019, Williams had his eyes on a project very personal to him: the restoration of American Legion Orange Baker Post 187 at 415 W. Voorhis Ave.

The building, constructed in the 1950s during segregation for Black veterans, had fallen into disrepair after it was damaged in a 2004 hurricane.

Williams led the charge to restore and preserve the building, envisioning it as a museum, community-gathering spot, and site for fundraising dinners.

“Now, the building is completely refurbished,” longtime friend Al Bouie said. “It was almost the single dedication of Charles Williams.”

“He was always really community-development-conscious,” Bouie said. “Not to mention, the things that we consider little things that he might do for families in need. He was just that kind of guy; truly what I would consider a good man.”

A DREAM REALIZED — Charles Williams, commander of American Legion Orange Baker Post 187 in DeLand, spearheaded restoration efforts at the post after it was severely damaged during a 2004 hurricane. Williams, 73, died Feb. 15, and was interred with military honors at Suber Memorial Gardens in Lake Helen.

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