SALISBURY, MD—Ten years ago, Salisbury lost a business visionary and community leader with the death of Salisbury University alumnus, entrepreneur and real estate developer Donnie Williams.
Exactly one decade after his passing on May 17, 2012, Salisbury University honored his legacy by announcing the renaming of its varsity baseball complex as Donnie Williams Sea Gull Baseball Stadium.
“Donnie was a lifelong baseball fan and also supported SU Athletics,” said Linda Slacum, whose planned gift to the University made the naming possible. “He always spoke so highly of his time at SU and was a member of the President’s Club until his passing. This felt like a perfect fit.”
“Through his vision, in addition to his support of SU, Donnie Williams changed the face of student housing in Salisbury, developing the complexes in which many of our students still live today,” said Jason Curtin, SU vice president of University advancement and external affairs, and executive director of the SU Foundation, Inc. “I can think of no honor befitting him more than ensuring his name will continue to live on, on the SU campus.”
Williams conceived the plans for his first successful businesses, Alarm Guard security systems and Advanced Property Rental, as part of his senior class project at SU in 1975. He established both in 1976 and sold Alarm Guard in 1992, continuing to oversee Advanced Property Rental until his passing.
As a developer, he established several off-campus student housing complexes in Salisbury, including University Townhouses, Cedar Crossing, Varsity Lane and Williams Landing. He was a five-time president of the Salisbury Area Property Owners Association.
A health and fitness advocate, he was one of the three original owners of Olympia Fitness Club in Salisbury. He also was an avid baseball fan, serving as catcher on the 1971 Maryland state champion St. Mary’s Ryken High School team. He held season tickets behind home plate for the Baltimore Orioles for 18 years and had a goal of attending a game at every Major League Baseball stadium.
As an SU student, he included Perdue Farms president and CEO Frank Perdue and Avery W. Hall Insurance president and CEO Sam Seidel — who endowed SU’s Franklin P. Perdue School of Business and Samuel W. and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education, respectively — among his business mentors. As an alumnus, he was a member of the SU Varsity and President’s clubs, and received the SU Alumni Award.
In the community, Williams served on the boards of directors of several local businesses and organizations, including Shore Bank and the United Way of the Lower Eastern Shore. He was a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Salisbury, where he was thrice named Rotarian of the Year. The Rotary Foundation honored him with its prestigious Paul Harris Fellow recognition.
“Donnie felt it was important to be involved in the community,” said Slacum. “I hope that current SU students learn from his example of hard work and determination. He had to work multiple jobs to put himself through college. Class work did not come easy for him. However, he tackled all challenges as if failure was not an option.”
Learn more about how SU students and faculty are exploring opportunities for greatness and making tomorrow theirs at www.salisbury.edu.