By Rob Whittle, Williams Whittle
Dain Anderson Williams was brought into this world to entertain. Yes, he found hundreds of ways to entertain himself – art, antiques, cooking, wine, travel, hunting, fishing, hiking, board work – and in so doing, entertained and delighted his family and friends.
One thing that always struck me about this entertainment aura Andy created was that multiple generations joined in the fun. Cassie, Claiborne, their husbands and their friends were all drawn to his aura. Who among us did not anticipate with near giddiness a meal prepared by Andy? He would extol the virtues of his own cooking before you got a chance to.
A tour of the wine cellar was de rigueur and as fun as any theme park, ride or video game. His collections of Chateau Lafitte Rothschild, sauvignon blanc, and rare ports were not to be missed. If he served an ordinary pinot noir at dinner, it simply meant you were one of the regulars. I can recall more than one dowager persuading her son to experience Andy. “You could use a little culture.” they seemed to be saying.
Andy and I were partners for decades. We used to joke that we were an old married couple. Other partners – Cathy Seay and Vikki Spruill passed through the aura as well. I’m going to be honest and tell you that Andy was not blessed with great business sense. But the other traits he brought to the party more than compensated. Nowadays people call it culture; everyone strives to create a great business culture that incents performance and loyalty, providing pool tables, video games, lunch rooms and gyms for employees. Andy created a business culture by force of his personality and personal tastes. Instead of glass and chrome, we had antiques, Persian rugs, and Williamsburg colors. Instead of giving time off on Good Friday, we had Easter egg hunts in the garden, spiced-up with miniature bottles of liquor. We once were treated to a fly fishing demonstration that was ninety percent about the gear and clothing and very little about fishing.
Like all old married couples, we had our spats. When times were tough, I would accuse him of not taking things seriously enough. One memorable reply was that, ‘yes, he did take it seriously’. The fact is that his personality – all about accentuating the positive – would not permit more than twenty minutes of dour reflection. He called it his ‘gift from God’. He knew he was born under a sunny sky, and he was indeed blessed with his wife Laurie, two wonderful girls, grandchildren and a zillion friends.
I will miss my partner and friend. We had Laurie and Andy to dinner not so long ago. We had a raucous, hilarious evening that went on far too late. He didn’t cook that night. There were no wine cellar tours. But it was vintage Dain all the same.
IN PHOTO: Rob Whittle (left) and Andy Williams (right)