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Former Buffalo Schools Superintendent James Williams dies at 77

Former Buffalo Schools Superintendent James Williams at a City Hall school board meeting.
File Photo

A longtime Buffalo schools superintendent has died. James Williams, who was superintendent from 2005 until he left in 2011, died Tuesday at the age of 77.

He had been living in his hometown of Washington, D.C. and running an educational consultancy called Vibeffect. That firm advises educational institutions on helping their students complete their degrees and complete them on time.

Current Buffalo Superintendent Kriner Cash knew Williams and praised him during Wednesday evening's school board meeting.

"He was a colleague of mine, many years in the profession, strong African American male, honest man, authentic man and was a great educator," Cash said.

Cash said the two worked together at Howard University to help train future Africa American superintendents of schools.

School Board President Lou Petrucci said he worked with Williams during an earlier term on the school board.

"He did many great things," Petrucci said. "He was one of the first superintendents to improve graduation and proficiencies in Math and English. He's also responsible for improving athletics in the Buffalo public schools, as well."

Williams also ramrodded major phases of the school reconstruction program, which spent $1.4 billion to give Buffalo an array of the best school buildings in the country.

Williams also was a schools superintendent in Dayton, Montgomery County, MD and Nashville.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.