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Peter D. Williams, 71

June 30, 2017
Traer Star-Clipper

Peter Dee Williams, 71, died Wednesday, June 22, 2017, at the Kavanagh Hospice House in Des Moines, Iowa, after living with brain cancer for six months. Those he loved most dearly were with him to support his passing.

Pete was born September 9, 1945, in Vinton, Iowa, to Frank Carroll and Ida Clara Katherine (Yost) Williams of Dysart. He graduated from Dysart High School in 1964.

He began his love affair with racing as a teen-ager, racing go-karts and stock cars. His professional career in racing took him across the US and into Canada. He wrenched and drove drag racing cars with a number of teams, including Dyno Don Nicholson, Jungle Jim Liberman, Shirley Muldowney, and finally working with Austin Coil on the Chi-Town Hustler. He won national events, was a member of the 200 mph club, and three of the cars he drove are now in the National Hot Rod Association museum in Pomona, CA. No one got a bigger kick out of Pete's career than his older brother Larry, who often traveled from Iowa to the east or west coast to catch a race.

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His second love affair began when he was home in Dysart between racing gigs. He met the editor of the Dysart Reporter, Drinda Lea Stanger. They were married October 31, 1981, in Dysart. Their daughter Elizabeth Quinn Williams was born March 3, 1983. Pete and his Lizzie had a special bond, and they loved being together. Pete and Drinda lived in Dysart for many years, later moving to Waterloo, then Managua, Nicaragua, and finally settling in Des Moines to be near Elizabeth and her family. Pete and Drinda loved biking, kayaking, and travel.

Pete continued to race over the years motorcycles, drag cars, and finally returning to vintage go-kart racing with his lifelong buddy Jim Thompson. In the months before his death he volunteered at the American Nicaraguan School in Managua, helping some high school boys figure out how to smooth out the engine and get the brakes working on their "science project" go-kart.

Pete was a voracious reader, loved the blues, and had an interest in geography, history and the sciences. He also built and enjoyed competing with model gliders and control-line airplanes. He was well-known for his story-telling and his ability to pull off a four-bid in Pepper with the worst hand of cards. He will be remembered as a gentle man, with an easy smile and generous spirit. He was the calm in the storm, the voice of reason amidst confusion, and ever the optimist.

Pete is survived by his wife Drinda, daughter and son-in-law Elizabeth and Dustin Ferreira of Des Moines, grandson Nolan, sister-in-law Katha Williams of Waterloo, and nephew Frank Williams of Waterloo. He was preceded in death by his parents and his much-loved older brother Larry.

There will be a gathering to remember Pete at 6 p.m., Wednesday, June 28, at the Cowles Library Reading Room, Drake University, 2507 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA. There will be a short service right at 6, followed by a time to socialize and share stories about Pete.

There will be a second gathering at 10 a.m., Sunday, July 23, at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, when Elizabeth will take Pete's ashes on a ride-along, fulfilling Pete's last wish: going for a ride in a fast car!

 
 

 

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