Former Mayor Honored in Park Cities Fourth of July Parade

Grand marshal added to resume of lawyer, volunteer, and business leader

Joel Williams III will ride in the Park Cities Fourth of July Parade for the 13th time this year.

The first 12 times were during his terms on the Highland Park Town Council and as mayor, and this time it’s as the ultimate honoree: parade grand marshal.

“I’ve been the recipient of candy for years and years and years,” the 50-plus-year Park Cities resident said. “I’ve been picking up candy for (my) kids, for my kids’ friends, and for my grandkids. For 12 years, I got to throw candy.”

He describes the parade as “the finest event in the Park Cities every year.”

“It is an opportunity for the town of Highland Park and city of University Park to work together in a collaborative manner with the Rotary Club,” Williams said.

Williams has been a leader in the Dallas financial business community for more than 50 years and founded the Bristol Group investment company.

His passion also lies in improving life for children and families. Efforts include starting Texas Stampede and Passion for Children’s, both of which support the Children’s Health System.

“Joel Williams’ devotion to hard work and service has enhanced the lives of many,” says a proclamation read by HP Mayor Will C. Beecherl during the Rotary Club luncheon honoring Williams. “Therefore, we are proud to honor Joel T. Williams III for his profound and lasting contribution to our community.”

Beecherl previously served under Williams, when Williams was mayor and Beecherl was a council member. 

“Mr. Williams more than fulfilled his civic duty by faithfully serving the town of Highland Park for 26 years including as Highland Park’s distinguished mayor from 2012-2018,” Beecherl said.

Williams, an SMU Dedman School of Law alumnus, has shared his knowledge and skills with organizations such as Goodwill Industries, Boy Scouts, Salesmanship Club of Dallas, and others.

His tenure as mayor included the development of a five-year capital improvement plan and overseeing the refurbishment of Highland Park Town Hall.

“I love working with people,” he said, noting that he’s an introvert with an extroverted side. “I miss the chance to work with so many of my friends in trying to help ensure that the community we call home remains special.”

And he got his footing quickly — two weeks after he was sworn in, he was asked to declare a state of emergency to allow area ground spraying for West Nile mosquitos in 2012.

“One of the most interesting things about being mayor is … you have an opportunity to learn a lot about a lot of different things,” Williams said. “You meet a lot of great people; you meet more of your residents than you already know.”

His advice for people considering running for public office: love your community, acknowledge that community quality is a collective responsibility, and have enough free time to devote to it.

“You come in and do the very best job you can, serve out your term, and then get out of the way and let someone else step up,” Williams said. 

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