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Cooper Williams: Devoted to family, hard work, football

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
April 20, 2002
It's hard to find anyone who hasn't been in Williams Brothers Store in the Neshoba County hamlet of Williamsville.
Founded in 1907, it is one of many Mississippi legacies that Amzie Cooper Williams, 82, left behind when he died Thursday at Jeff Anderson Regional Medical Center of complications following surgery.
The store became famous long ago when Mr. Williams' father was still running the business he'd started. He was proud of the article published in the 1930s in National Geographic Magazine that told how the store had sold more snuff than any other, and that customers could find everything from needles to horse collars there.
Hoop cheese and slab bacon sliced on site can still be purchased at the store. Sid Williams, one of his sons, said the store slices about 6,000 pounds of bacon a week.
Although Mr. Williams retired from the store at 70, Sid said his father still popped in about three times a day to see everybody.
His son-in-law, Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning, remembers him as a football fan.
Mr. Williams went to all of the New Orleans Saints home games when Manning played and quite a few games on the road. He also operated Cooper Williams Gin Company for 35 years.
Sid said his father would sometimes work a double shift at the gin until midnight on a Saturday, catch a flight in Jackson to Chicago, Denver, Los Angles or wherever the Saints were playing, see the game, come straight home and be back at work at as usual, at 6 a.m. Monday.
Sometimes Sid would accompany his father to New Orleans where they would take a cab to the game.
Olivia and Archie Manning's oldest son, Cooper, was Mr. Williams' first grandson.
He saw that and then some. He saw his grandsons Amzie Williams and Peyton and Eli Manning all play for the Rebels. He saw Peyton begin his professional career with the Indianapolis Colts and predicted Eli would be a first-round draft pick.
Hanging in the rafters among the smoked hams at Williams Brothers Store are the Ole Miss football jerseys of his grandsons. They hang right above the bacon slicer. Always asked how much he would take for the jerseys, Williams' standard reply was there's not enough money in the world.'