If you can judge a man’s life by his funeral, Lynn Williams was clearly one of a kind.
The services planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Our Savior’s Church on East Broussard Road will be a celebration of a life well lived and man dearly loved by so many in the community and, especially, in the Ragin’ Cajuns family.
“I always said that guy’s wake could fill up the Cajundome,” former UL trainer Brent Boudreaux said. “He was the most unassuming, kind-hearted, just good person I’ve known. Everybody was his friend.”
It’s been said before that the athletic department is a university's front porch. But typically it’s the star athletes and high-profile coaches sitting in the biggest rocking chairs, first and foremost in the minds of the school’s fans.
As the equipment manager at UL for more than three decades, Williams was always in the back of the house cooking, cleaning or patching up a hole in someone’s pants.
Consequently, his funeral will be like none you’ve ever seen. His family has requested that all who attend not wear somber funeral clothes, but instead wear Ragin’ Cajuns apparel in his honor.
“That’s just so perfect for Lynn,” former UL baseball player Ken Meyers said. “It’s going to be a very unique funeral.”
UL’s athletic department has made great strides over the past decade. In many ways, Williams was the department’s last institution left.
“He was UL,” the university’s all-time leading receiver Brandon Stokley said. “First there was (former equipment manager) Blackjack (Landry) and then there was Lynn.”
But like so many others, Stokley will remember Williams as far more than a loyal university employee.
“He was a great friend,” Stokley said. “He’s always been a big part of my life, not only my childhood, but my dad and all of my memories of being at UL. He was right in the middle of all of that.”
Before becoming one of those front-porch athletes for UL, Stokley said, Williams first helped him feel like a part of the UL family.
Soon after his father, Nelson Stokley, was hired as head football coach in 1986, 10-year-old Brandon began spending more time with Williams than perhaps any other UL athlete ever.
In effect, young Stokley’s first job was as a part-time manager under Williams.
“He would allow me to go on road trips with him,” Stokley remembered. “We’d load up the Ryder truck and drive to Arkansas State or Alabama or wherever. Those are still such great memories for me. Those are the most exciting memories of growing up.
“I can remember going on trips with Lynn, his brother Lyle, Kyle Kipps and A.J. Wilson.”
On one of those road trips, however, apparently no one informed Stokley’s mother that her son was tagging along.
“My mom had the state troopers looking for me,” Stokley laughs now. “She thought I was missing.”
With Williams, there was always the right combination of work and fun.
“He was a great guy, but he always wanted everything done the right way,” Stokley said. “We always had to get our work done first and it had to be done right, but then we got to mess around.
“We’d play football with the other managers and equipment guys. It was just so exciting being in the middle of everything and feeling like you were part of the team. That was all because of Lenny.”
On a different trip, Williams witnessed Stokley’s mother dropping him off. As Brandon walked away from the vehicle, she beckoned him back to the car, “Brandon, kissy, kissy.”
Williams never let him forget it.
“Even after I made the NFL, every time he’d see me, he would say, ‘Brandon, kissy, kissy,’” Stokley laughed.
For Ken Meyers, early memories of Williams also centered around long bus rides.
On those trips to Jonesboro, Arkansas, or Edinburg, Texas, the card players took over the first few rows of the bus.
Meyers and Williams were always there.
“A lot of athletes at that age are cocky with pretty big mouths,” Meyers said. “Lenny wasn’t an athlete, but he could talk. He was very quick-witted. He could talk trash too. He could definitely handle himself with his mouth.
“Lynn was right in the middle of it jawing with the best of them.”
Still closely involved with UL, Meyers, like so many UL alumni, maintained a close relationship with Williams over the years.
“We met way back in 1987 and we really became friends,” Meyers said. “Some looked at him as an equipment manager, but I saw him as just a friend. I’m really going to miss Lynn.”
The last time Meyers spoke with Williams was the week before he died Wednesday in his home.
They were working together on getting some Adidas bags for an alumni group. And of course, Williams had struck a great deal.
“Lynn was smart and very savvy,” Meyers said.
“He always took care of his guys,” said Boudreaux, who first met Williams as a classmate before they became working colleagues.
“He was just a good, kind soul. He never treated me like a kid. He always treated me one level higher than I actually was.
“He just had a way of making you feel better about yourself. He valued you, but he did it in a way that was so subtle.”
His friends and colleagues not only liked him, they respected his work.
“Everything he did was flawless,” Boudreaux said. “He would amaze me. If he said it was this way, it was that way. You never questioned his decisions.”
Even if you didn’t understood them.
“He always called me Brentiss,” Boudreaux laughed. “I never know why. He was the only person who ever called me that.”
Indeed, Tuesday’s funeral services will say it all.
“It’s a tremendous loss for the university,” Stokley said. “He’s going to be missed. It’s sad for me to think about. I know all the progress that’s been made there and it’s great.
“It just hurts to see the last guy for that era that I grew up in gone. He’s just meant so much to the football program and all of UL athletics.”