Lawmakers back renaming Warrenville post office after fallen Army medic
A renewed effort to rename the Warrenville post office after an Army medic killed in Iraq is gaining momentum.
High school classmates of Jeffrey A. Williams have revived a request originally made by his mother to designate the post office in honor of her 20-year-old son, mortally wounded by an improvised explosive device in northwestern Iraq in September 2005.
And with the backing of congressional lawmakers, his friends say they are closer than ever to their goal of immortalizing Williams.
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, a Plano Republican, has authored a bill to christen the Rockwell Street building as the Cpl. Jeffery Allen Williams Post Office. All 17 other members of the state's congressional delegation have co-sponsored the bill that has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
"Corporal Williams is an American hero from the 14th Congressional District," Hultgren said in a statement provided by his office. "Let's honor his service and sacrifice in the naming of this Warrenville post office."
His former football teammates at Wheaton Warrenville South High School say a namesake post office would serve as a fitting tribute for a loyal son and an outgoing friend who liked to give his best impression of the People's Eyebrow made famous by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
Williams was well-known around the post office, where he mailed bills and ran errands for his mom, who has a congenital heart defect. Inspired by her condition, Williams once aspired to become a cardiologist.
Sandra Williams Smith, who moved to Texas in 2004, first sought to have the post office bear her son's name in the weeks after his death. In 2007, Pat Quinn, then the lieutenant governor, indicated he backed the idea but noted the red tape surrounding the renaming of a federal building.
"So it will take an act of Congress to grant her request," Quinn said at the time.
His old classmates, who have taken up the cause again, initially worked with U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam's office given that the Wheaton Republican represents a district that includes the Wheaton Warrenville South community.
They later learned that Hultgren would need to draft the bill because the post office falls within the 14th Congressional District. Hultgren also wanted to see whether there was community support for the proposal.
Williams' friends delivered and then some. In addition to starting an online petition that has garnered more than 1,300 signatures, they got Winfield Township on board with a resolution endorsing the renaming.
One of the those friends, Michael Barbier, a Wheaton city councilman, personally reached out to the offices of congressional lawmakers from Illinois, sharing a little about Williams, who received more than a half dozen military honors.
Barbier said he's frustrated the effort has taken longer than expected but said he's starting to see "the light at the end of the tunnel."
Robert Ortman, a fellow linebacker with Williams in high school and a captain in the Marine Corps Reserve, said the renaming is long overdue.
"This needs to get done, and people want it to get done," Ortman said. "This was a good guy who served his country, and he died serving his country, and I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be recognized."