From the Borehamwood Time
A man who was born into a Romany Gypsy family and eventually put roots down in Borehamwood celebrated his 100th birthday yesterday.
William Williams, who lives in the Forest Care Home, in Cardinal Avenue, celebrated his centenary surrounded by his family and friends.
Mr Williams’ son Bill said: “He was a strict father but he was always fair with us and taught us the difference between right and wrong.
“He always said he would reach 100. He’s from good stock and all his side of the family lived long lives.”
Mr Williams, born in Battersea in 1912, was the youngest of four brothers of a Romany gypsy family and spent most of his young life travelling with his family.
During World War Two Mr Williams delivered coal during the day to power stations and at night he was an Air Raid Warden.
In 1948 he married Rose, who he had known since he was a young boy and the two were together for more than 55 years until her death in 2004.
The couple had three children, twin brothers Bill and Johnny and daughter Vera.
Shortly after marrying, Mr Williams put roots down in Borehamwood living in a caravan on a piece of land just off Theobald Street.
The piece of ground was a traditional stopping place for travellers, but as it became harder to move around Mr Williams decided to stay put.
Bill Williams added: “One story we all remember was when a hot air balloon landed in the field near where we lived and he raced to go and see if the guy was okay.
“When he got there he was shouting to the guy ‘where’s your engine gone?’ We always have a laugh about that because he was from that generation that didn’t quite understand the mechanics of it all.”
Throughout his life Mr Williams had a passion for horses and would take some to the Barnet Horse Fair and he also broke in horses which would be used to pull carts for local dairies and bakers.
Vera Vince, his daughter, said: “We would just like to say a big thank you to all the staff that look after him and Dr Hursh and Dr Rye for the amazing care they give him.”