- Associated Press - Saturday, February 13, 2016

THIBODAUX, La. (AP) - At 11 years old, Charles Williams got his first job in his hometown of White Castle, bagging groceries, delivering them on a bicycle and stocking shelves.

His father died when Williams was young, leaving his mother to raise five children on her own. Williams made $88 for a six-day work week and would come home on Saturdays with his money in a brown envelope for his mother.

“Back then, you worked and you tried to help your parents, so that’s what I did,” said Williams, now 70. “You’d take that brown envelope, put it on the table and walk away. Sometimes she’d give us $2 or $4 or $1 and that was it. I didn’t complain because I knew I had four siblings that needed my support and she couldn’t do it all by herself.”

The Thibodaux resident later took a job with Shell, starting as a laborer and working his way up to a shift foreman before retiring in the late 80s. He didn’t want to just stay home, so he worked part time as a school janitor before starting a grass-cutting business.

Williams joined the Thibodaux Police Department as a trusty guard in 2011 and has only missed work for doctor’s appointments and the occasional vacation. At the department’s Blue Summit meeting last month, he was named Employee of the Year.

“When asked how he is doing, his reply is always, ‘I’m blessed!’” a Thibodaux Police Facebook post reads. “Countless times, he has been called to get a job done by a certain date, and he just grins and says, ‘Don’t you know who you’re talking to? That was done yesterday!’”

That work ethic runs in Williams’ blood.

“My grandparents taught me that if you’re doing to do something, do it right the first time because if not, there are consequences,” he said. “The consequence during that time was going out to the tree and getting a switch. Then you’d still have to do the work over again.”

Williams said he took his current job because he wanted something to do. He transports trusties from the jail to complete tasks such as picking up trash and putting up tents and barricades for events.

“It’s just the satisfaction of knowing that you’re doing something to help somebody,” he said. “The biggest challenge that I find is some of the inmates you have to work with. Some of them, they’ll try you, but you’ve just got to know how to handle it.”

Not even a cancer diagnosis has deterred Williams, who found out he had leukemia in August 2012. He underwent chemotherapy, platelet transfusion and a bone marrow transplant, with his sister serving as his donor.

The treatments eradicated the cancer, but in August 2015, doctors found that it had returned. William will have a bone marrow biopsy this week.

What keeps him going, he said, are his five children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He wants to stay active so he can be there for them as long as possible.

He said he wants them to be honest, obedient and do things right the first time.

“I’m a little hard on my own kids because I see a lot of things that happen around here and some of the kids in the neighborhood, and I don’t want that happening for mine,” he said. “My oldest son is 40-something years old and we still have conversations. If he does something I don’t like, I don’t mind telling him about it.”

Williams’ daughter, Karen Williams, said she can’t imagine life without her father, who taught her the value of hard work and dedication. She said he would take jobs at his children’s schools to keep an eye on them, and she believes he missed his calling to be a police officer.

“He and I share the same birthday, so we’re on the same page about a lot of things,” she said. “He’s always been a strict dad, goes by the rules. You’re never supposed to quit on anything. … Nothing comes easy, so you’ve got to work hard for it.”

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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