Gilbert High School sign language teacher Brad Williams was known for his sassy smile, great sense of humor and sarcastic jokes. When Williams died suddenly March 10 in his Mesa home, just five days after his 33rd birthday, he left behind many devastated students, teachers and family members.
Gilbert High School sign language teacher Brad Williams was known for his sassy smile, great sense of humor and sarcastic jokes.
Many Gilbert students and teachers considered him a good friend, and he had a special way of connecting with his students.
One of his many silly nicknames was “B-Rad Willy.”
When Williams died suddenly March 10 in his Mesa home, just five days after his 33rd birthday, he left behind many devastated students, teachers and family members.
Autopsy results still are pending.
Williams had worked in the district since August 2002, was also the boys tennis coach, a referee for the volleyball and basketball teams, and taught an online sign language class through Rio Salado Community College.
To deal with their grief and remember their favorite teacher, three of Williams’ students designed and sold 70 T-shirts, and have organized a 33-minute walk in his honor.
At least 80 people are expected to participate in “Walk for Williams” at 9 a.m. Saturday on Gilbert High School’s track at the football field, 1101 E. Elliot Road, Gilbert.
Proceeds will benefit the National Association of the Deaf, because of Williams’ involvement with deaf culture. Anyone who would like to participate is asked to donate $5.
Jasmine Miles, Jenna McEachran and Jessica Tackett, who just finished their sophomore year, have already raised about $800. They said they wanted to do something for Williams to show how much he was missed, and give everyone a chance to talk about the fun times they had with him.
After the walk, they will hand out donated doughnuts and water, playing Williams’ favorite music (like Lady Gaga) and reminiscing about the good times with Williams.
“He was more like a best friend than a teacher,” Jasmine said. “He taught us to respect everyone for their differences. That’s something I hope to carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Jenna’s mom, Leanne McEachran, said when she picked up the girls every day she remembers hearing lots of “Mr. Williams’ stories.”
“This man left such a legacy on so many children,” she said. “He was so important and opened up a new world to these kids. He’s had such a positive impact. To them he will be a legend, he will live on.”
Sara Singleton, Gilbert High’s other sign language teacher who worked closely with Williams for five years, said Williams was always bringing new ideas into class.
“He just loved his job,” said Singleton, who dabbed away tears as she talked about Williams. “He had a great spirit about him. He will be missed more than he will ever know.”
Two days after his death, Williams was supposed to bring 45 students to Disneyland, one of his favorite places, for the annual Deaf Day.
The trip was rescheduled, and his mom, Kitty Williams, went in his place. Williams lived 10 houses down from his parents.
“It’s just been overwhelming how much the kids say they love him,” said Kitty Williams, who has received many cards and banners of thoughts written by students. “They all put down he was the best teacher ever and he could never be replaced. They said he made learning fun.”
Kitty Williams will be at the walk on Saturday, along with several family members who have ties to the Gilbert Unified School District.
Williams’ sister, Hollie Motroni, is a kindergarten teacher at Ashland Ranch Elementary School. Hollie’s husband, Art Motroni, is the school resource officer at Desert Ridge High School. One son, Tyler Motroni, is a Highland High junior, and another son, Mark Motroni, is an instructional assistant at Pioneer Elementary School.
“The kids are, just like me, in disbelief, and just don’t want to let him go,” said Kitty Williams, who added that 600 people, mostly students, attended his memorial service. “Even after he passed away, students would text him. They thought he was just joking with everyone. He was always playing tricks.
“They just can’t believe that he’s gone,” she said. “I thought it was real nice that they were doing that (Saturday’s walk).”