New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner
Office of Public Information
For immediate release:
Monday, October 27, 2003
Prison Commissioner says Investigator Mike Williams "left a patriot and returns a hero" during Buffalo service eulogizing DOCS "citizen soldier" killed in Iraq bomb blast
Here is a copy of Commissioner Goord's remarks offered Saturday during the 11 a.m. service for DOCS Investigator Michael Williams at the Antioch Baptist Church in Buffalo:
I am the Commissioner of the state Department of Correctional Services.
I thank Mike's family for allowing me the honor of speaking this morning on behalf of his many friends and colleagues in the Department.
Governor Pataki regrets that he is unable to be with us this morning. He wrote a message that he asked me to deliver to Mike's widow, Carolyn. Let me read an excerpt from it:
"To Bennie, Carolyn, Nicole, Monique, Latoya and Michelle:"
"I know this is a very difficult and painful time for you. But it is my hope that you will find comfort in knowing that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many who are grateful for the courage and selflessness with which Michael served. We are proud of him - and proud of you and your strength."
"We will be forever thankful for Michael's life and his contributions to our State and the security of our nation. It is a legacy in which his family and friends can take great pride."
"Libby joins me in sending our heartfelt condolences and deepest sympathy."
We at Corrections also offer our sympathies and prayers to Mike's family and friends. Flags are flying at half-staff at all our facilities today in his honor. That's because his loss is a tragedy for all New Yorkers.
Because this gentle soul was a leader, a role model, and a loving and caring example of the very best among us all.
Mike was born September 11, 1957. One of today's cruelest ironies is that he reenlisted in the Army National Guard because of the events that occurred on his 44th birthday - a date to be forever known, simply, as 9/11.
He had already served his time in the Guard and been discharged. He could have stayed home and left Operation Enduring Freedom to others.
But the same loyalty and commitment he gave to his family, his friends and his job extended to the country that he loved and honored.
Let me tell you a bit about Mike and the life he shared with Corrections.
Mike began his training with Corrections in 1984. He worked at Sing Sing, Attica, Collins and Wyoming prisons before transferring to Gowanda in 1994.
He said that being a CO was an honorable profession. Mike was proud to wear the uniform of a Correction Officer, just as he was to wear that of a military policeman.
In 1999, he chose to join our in-house cops - the Inspector General's office - in Albany. He later transferred to our field location here in Buffalo.
It was a perfect fit.
Mike was far more than just a colleague to our team of investigators statewide.
He was a leader. He was a mentor.
His zest for life was as infectious as his laughter.
Mike told his colleagues that he joined the IG because his military background had challenged him to do so. He also saw it as a natural progression from the CO ranks. And it allowed him to work with his best friend - our Investigator Frank Annarino.
Mike felt the job offered the new challenge he was always looking for. He wanted to make a difference. He wanted to help staff to perform their jobs honorably.
So he traded in his Officer's uniform for the civilian clothes worn by our investigators.
But off-duty was another matter. Mike was a dapper dresser. He'd spend a whole day shopping for just the right clothes. He always looked great!
While he served in Iraq, he stayed in touch with his co-workers. He said he felt bad that they had to work so hard because he was not there to pull his fair share of the load. He said to keep his job open - he was coming back.
Mike left a patriot and returns a hero.
And now, we all miss him terribly.
I can fill his job; but I cannot begin to fill the hole in the hearts of his colleagues.
But we could offer Mike some small comfort on his journey here today. Those who brought him home from the battlefields of Iraq included Correction Officer Michael Tweedy. CO Tweedy had been at Mike's side as an Officer and served with him in the Army National Guard.
Mike's death is so hard for the family of Corrections because he was far more than just a colleague.
He was the friend who attended the football and basketball games of the children of his co-workers. He led the children forward - just as he did their parents.
Mike was a Christian - you just knew it, from how he lived his life.
Because that life was an example that made his colleagues re-think how they were living theirs.
Everyone in the IG's office got used to hearing about Mike from the police departments, district attorneys and other agencies that he dealt with.
How professional he was.
How honorable he was.
How he performed his job with integrity.
Mike's personal and professional lives are testaments for the ages.
He was - quite simply - a good, kind and decent man.
He was a loving husband, son, brother, father, grandfather - and co-worker.
He was also our friend.
Mike enriched all of our lives.
He made us proud to know him.
So I say to Mike this morning:
"May the Lord bless you and keep you."
"May the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you."
"May the Lord lift up his countenance to you ... and give you peace."
Editor's note: After delivering his remarks, Commissioner Goord presented Mrs. Carolyn Williams with the message from the Governor, as well as a state flag that had been raised and lowered in Investigator Williams' honor on Friday over the Gowanda Correctional Facility, his last facility assignment.)