In Memoriam: Jesse T. Williams Sr.

April 30, 2021

Jesse T. Williams Sr., former director of FirstEnergy Corp. and JCP&L, passed away on April 25.

“Jesse was a tremendous individual in many ways,” said President and CEO Steve Strah. “As one of our longest-serving board members and a member of the Akron business community, he understood the importance of our customers and the communities we serve. Jesse provided wise council that always included concern for employees and pride in our business. Our deepest sympathy is extended to his wife, Vernetta, and the Williams family.”

Jesse retired from the FirstEnergy Board of Directors on March 1, 2012 following 20 years of service to the company. He was a director of Ohio Edison from 1992 to 1997 and a director of FirstEnergy Corp. from 1997 to 2012. He served as a member of the Board’s Corporate Governance, Audit, Compensation and Nuclear committees. In addition, Jesse was a member of the Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) Board of Directors from 2007-2018.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore (UMES), Jesse joined The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Akron in 1962. He held human resources (HR) and industrial engineering positions and in 1985 was named director of HR. By 1988, Jesse had advanced to the vice president level.

He completed postgraduate work at Northwestern University, Morehouse College and Yale University. In 1993, Jesse was promoted to vice president of HR Policy, Compensation, Employment Practices and Systems. Jesse retired in 1998, the year he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from UMES.

He served as chairman of UMES Board of Visitors and was a devoted alumni and volunteer. Jesse often said, “UMES gave me my life and my wife.” There he met Vernetta Brittingham in October 1959 when they crossed paths while waiting to secure monthly meal passes. It was a lasting bond, as the couple was married for 59 years.

Jesse also served as chairman of the Deacon’s Ministry for the Cornerstone Fellowship Baptist Church and was a life member of the NAACP, Phi Beta Sigma and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities.