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Simpson College mourns loss of Jim Williams

Winningest football coach in school history passes away at age 91


Jim Williams, the winningest football coach in Simpson College history, died Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021 at age 91. 

Services for Williams will be handled by Caldwell Parrish Funeral Home in Urbandale, Iowa. Visitation services are set for Monday, Jan. 3 from 4-7 p.m. with a mass and funeral services on Tuesday, Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. Visitation and services will be held at St. Pius Catholic Church.

For more information on services and an obituary, visit caldwellparrish.com.

Williams coached the Simpson football team for 15 seasons, compiling a remarkable 106-48-1 record from 1987-2001. He led Simpson to four Iowa Conference Championships, five NCAA playoff appearances and three undefeated regular seasons. Williams earned conference coach of the year honors four times.

Williams came to Simpson in 1987 after a decade as the offensive line coach at Iowa State University and a hall of fame career at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines. Taking over a struggling program that endured losing records in 14 of the previous 15 seasons, Williams led Simpson to a conference championship in just his second season. 

“When Simpson hired Jim Williams, it was a game-changer. It put the Iowa Conference on notice that Simpson was serious about competing in football,” said John Sirianni, Simpson College director of athletics from 1984-2014. Sirianni coached under Williams at Dowling and was instrumental in bringing him to Simpson. “Not only did he impact the football program, he made a tremendous impact on the entire athletic department. He became a role model and a mentor to the rest of the coaching staff. That influence helped change the culture of Simpson Athletics and led the department into a new era of prosperity.”

The 1988 conference championship was just the beginning for Williams. He added league titles and unbeaten regular seasons in 1991, 1996 and 1997. Simpson rattled off 13-consecutive winning seasons under Williams, becoming one of Division III’s winningest teams of the 1990s. 

Simpson’s 1997 team followed an unbeaten regular season with a deep run in the playoffs. The Storm posted a dramatic road win at Wisconsin-Whitewater in the opening round then routed Augsburg at Buxton Stadium. The Storm’s run ended in the national semifinals against eventual champion, Mount Union. 

“Coach Jim Williams set the standard for Simpson football and took the program to unprecedented heights. He impacted the lives of so many people and leaves a legacy in college football as one of the best to ever do it,” said Matt Jeter, Simpson head football coach and starting cornerback on the 1996 and 1997 conference championship teams. “Coach Williams taught me how to be a champion on and off the field and made a difference in my life way beyond the game of football. I am truly grateful to have played for Coach Williams and will cherish those life experiences he taught me forever.”

Williams was inducted into the Simpson College Coaches Hall of Fame in 2008. His 106 career wins are 69 more than any other coach in school history and his .687 winning percentage places him in the top 50 all-time among Division III coaches. He coached 11 All-Americans, four conference MVPs and his teams led the nation in total offense in 1989 and 1997.  

Following his tenure at Simpson, Williams returned to Dowling Catholic to coach the offensive line from 2005 to 2019. During that run, he helped the Maroons to eight Iowa State Championships.

About Simpson College
Simpson College is a private, liberal arts college located in Iowa with campuses in Indianola, West Des Moines and online. Founded in 1860, the college has 1,078 undergraduate and graduate students. Simpson offers 75 majors, minors and programs in addition to three graduate programs. Outside of the classroom, Simpson is a member of the NCAA Division III American Rivers Conference, hosts eight Greek houses on campus and sponsors many extracurricular options for student involvement.
Contact Information
Bryan Geelan, marketing communication director
Direct: 515-961-1608
Email: bryan.geelan@simpson.edu