Mitchell Marvin Williams, 92, of Moab, beloved husband, father and grandfather died during the evening of May 23, 2009. Mitch died peacefully at his home in Moab after a short illness and was comforted by his son.
Mitch was born on May 25, 1916 in Moab, to Alvina Williams and Doctor John W. Williams. Mitch grew up in Moab, where his father was the doctor for Moab and the surrounding area. He graduated from Grand County High School in 1934. Mitch then entered college in Pike County, Mo., where his father grew up.
After two years of college, Mitch returned to Moab and worked transporting fuel and supplies from Thompson, Utah throughout the area. He was later involved in mining vanadium in Yellow Cat.
In the fall of 1940 he went to Grand Junction, Colo. and joined the Army. While in flight school in San Angelo, Tex., he met Mary F. Sutton. They were married on Dec 5, 1942, almost a year after Pearl Harbor. Soon after, Mitch’s fighter squadron was sent to the South Pacific for the war, so Mary returned to Texon, Tex. to live with her family.
Mitch Williams flew 89 combat missions with the 3rd Air Commando Group, 5th Air Force. He flew the P-51 D, an aircraft that he loved and had great respect for his entire life. He was shipped to the South Pacific and saw combat in New Guinea, Formosa, Okinawa and the Philippines.
He was shot down in the Philippines. He crashed in a rice paddy, where another man from Moab, who was on the ground in a separate Army action, just happened to be there and helped pull him from his cockpit. The Army turned Mitch over to the Philippine guerrillas, who got him back to his outfit.
After the war ended, Mitch and Mary moved to the Oakland, Calif. area where Mitch worked at various jobs, including a natural gas company. Later, Mitch reenlisted in what was becoming the Air Force, but they didn’t put him in a fighter squadron so he got out after a few years.
Mitch, along with his wife and son, returned to Moab in 1954. Mitch spent time, along with many others, prospecting for uranium. He also helped his father, Doc, put in the first trailer park in Moab.
Later, he flew for Pete and Mary Byrd out at the old airport. He flew a lot of oil men into their drill sites, landing on and taking off from all manner of dirt strips. He worked as an executive pilot for many years when he worked for Charlie Steen, flying from Alaska to South America. He also flew crews out of Vernal for a while, when job pickings were thin here at home.
In 1963, he started Tag-A-Long Tours, which became one of the foremost tour companies in Utah. He and his wife Mary cracked the European tour market, which really put Tag-A-Long Tours on the map. Tag started as a 4X4 company only but was soon running the daily on a “daily” basis. Tag was the first company to develop the Fisher Towers “daily” market.
Mitch loved river running and the company quickly grew to have operations in Cataract, Westwater, the San Juan and Desolation. The 4X4 tours went to the Needles, the Maze, and Island in the Sky on one-day and multi-day tours. Jet boats dodged sandbars traveling to the confluence of the Green and Colorado on a frequent basis. Tag grew to be a giant of a company and had clients from all over the world. Mitch and Mary sold out in 1981 and retired in Moab.
Mitch was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Moab, an involvement he greatly enjoyed. He also struggled with throat cancer in his ‘60s, but he did beat it and continue on with 30 years of remission.
Mitch cherished many long-lasting friendships throughout his life in Moab. Mitch especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren.
Mitch is survived by his loving son, John L. Williams, grandchildren, Angela M. Williams and Wesley M. Williams and many other dear friends and family members.
Mitch was preceded in death by his mother, Alvina William,s and father, Dr. John W. Williams, his wife, Mary S. Williams, brothers, John and LaDue, and sister, Ramona and Eddah.
The family would like to give special thanks to the many caring members of the community who showed their concern, and to Allen Memorial Hospital for the extraordinary care given Mitch.
A viewing will be held at Kimmerle-Hefner Funeral Home, 36 South 100 West in Moab, from 7-9 p.m. on Thursday, May 28.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 29 at St. Francis Episcopal Church, 250 S. Kane Creek Blvd., in Moab.