Tom Williams, CEO of Asbury Park, could let Lou Gehrig's disease steal away his joy. But that just is not who he is, or who he will allow himself to be.


“I have personally experienced the high level of energy and enthusiasm that he contributed in the role of (chamber president) in early morning meetings,” said Jessie Kaye, CEO of Prairie View. “.. He demonstrates a dedication of service and great achievement in both volunteer and professional areas.”


Kaye had the enviable task of introducting Williams at the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner this week. Williams was being honored — named the 2018 Outstanding Citizen by the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce.


“I feel very humbled by this,” Williams said. “I appreciate all the support I have from this community and I keep telling people that I just love Newton. It is an outstanding community. … I join a lot of others that I have a lot of respect for on that list.”


He said he is thankful the community support he has received that has helped him visit his grandson, and helped him as he has struggled with ALS.


“It has been fantastic,” Williams said. “I thank everyone for this honor … I cherish every morning when I am able to get up and I still get to get up after I wake up. If you have been taking advantage of that, you had better think twice. You had better take advantage of the friends around you, the family around you. You do not know what is going to happen tomorrow. If you have faith, it does not matter. If you have faith, you are going the right direction.”


Williams was raised by a preacher and a teacher. He is a musician and athlete. He is a parent — and now grandparent. Williams never missed any of his children's musical and theater performances, nor any of their games in sports.


And he has also contributed to the community.


“He has a strong history of contributing to the community through service clubs like Rotary and volunteering at events like the recent summer festival,” Kaye said. “... He is a leader in the faith community in a variety of roles in the church, including choir and multiple committees while living out his faith. He has chosen a long string of faith based employers along a winding career path.”


He earned a degree from Wichita State University before pursuing graduate degrees at the University of St. Louis.


Williams has served on the boards of Newton Medical Center, Mirror Inc., Kansas Association of Homes for the Aging and Leading Age Kansas. He recently chaired a commission to look at long-term options for a new law enforcement center for Newton.


He was administrator at Presbyterian Manor from 1995 to 2001 and was named CEO at Asbury Park in 2005.