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Menlo Park Man On Quest to Honor Veterans

By Garvin Thomas
|  Wednesday, Oct 2, 2013  |  Updated 2:44 PM PDT
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Robert Beresford Williams is on a quest to get every college in the country to honor veterans.

Robert Beresford Williams is on a quest to get every college in the country to honor veterans.

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In 2000, Robert Beresford Williams thought it was time to write the story of his life.

At 79 years old, the Menlo Park man figured he had done everything of note he was going to do in his life, so he might as well start writing.

It had been, to be fair, a remarkable life: Eagle Scout, Naval Academy graduate, World War II veteran, highly successful life insurance salesman. But Williams accomplishments, it turns out, were far from over. In fact, Williams has just added another chapter.

A few years ago, Williams got the idea that colleges and universities around the country should do something to honor veterans during their football games closest to Veterans Day.

Williams began a letter-writing campaign.

"Over a period of time," Williams says, "I wrote more than 600 letters to colleges." Many of the letters, Williams says, were individualized to the particular school, with mentions of date, place, and opponent of the school's game closest to Veterans Day.

Williams says the only thing more remarkable than the effort to send all the letters, was the volume of the response he got.

"It was like Christmas every day," Williams said.

After the first batch of letters were sent, Williams estimates he got positive responses from half of the institutions.

With follow-up, Williams thinks he now has almost all the schools on board.

"My best guess is that nearly all the 600 schools to whom I wrote will be honoring veterans this fall," he said.

Williams has been so encouraged by the response, he is now extending his outreach to high schools across the country. It is a big job, but Williams says, despite his age, he is up for it.

"I'm 92 years old, and this last year has been the most productive and happiest of my life," he said.

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