WESTVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — The Westville community is rallying behind the family of a beloved football coach who recently passed away.
Eli Williams was a man who lived and breathed Westville and served many roles as a coach in the community. He was a defensive back, running back and receiver coach for Westville High School’s football team, Junior Varsity head coach, youth basketball and track coach.
“If kids needed to talk, they would talk to him,” his wife Sue Williams said of her husband. “He was like a mentor to them. We had a foster license too, so we would foster children.”
Sue Williams, who was married to Eli for 41 years, said since his passing a few days ago, dozens in the community have stopped by her home to show the Williams family love and support. She said it has been a really difficult time for the family, but is touched to know he meant so much to so many.
“Our church community, Church of God in Danville, and others, friends and family in the community, have brought food and so much love and support, and that means so much to the family,” Williams said.
Westville Principal and Head Football Coach Guy Goodlove added that through the decades, Coach Williams played an active role mentoring and caring about his students. He said the school is a better place because of people like Coach Williams, and he will miss being on the sidelines coaching with him.
“You know he always said the one thing you can control in life is effort. Just give me an honest effort. That’s all I ask. He not only meant that on the field, but in real life,” Goodlove said. “What a good man, a family man, a good coach, and a good friend. There’s just an emptiness knowing he’s not gonna be there this upcoming season.”
A candlelight vigil is being held in his memory Friday night. The family is raising money to help pay for his funeral expenses. If you would like to donate, click here.