The privilege of getting to know John Williams

Kim Brooks
Babbling Brooks Column
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     This past week, a long-time local business owner whom I had gotten to know both on a professional level and personal level passed away.

     John Williams, former owner of Julin Printing, lost his courageous battle with cancer. John was a proud Vietnam veteran. His brave service of our country during the war brought about his fight with cancer.

     I had the privilege of interviewing John many times over the years, namely due to the unfortunate flooding events of the former Julin Printing facility in what is now the Baty Disc Golf Course. After the final straw, John moved Julin on the opposite side of Monticello, clear of the floodplain. So, again, the Express featured Julin Printing, this time, sharing the positive news of the new location/expansion and continued support of the Monticello community.

     In November 2012, I interviewed John for a very different story. I was privileged to get the opportunity to sit down with him and hear about his time serving in Vietnam.

     This was a feature for Veterans Day, and John was gracious enough to recall his time in the service. Many Vietnam veterans refrain from talking about or thinking about their service during that time in our nation’s history. The things they saw, the things they might have done, their feelings toward the Vietnam War now, are better left buried than brought to light. It’s understandable…

     Before proposing an interview with John, I came across an old photo and article in the Express from November 1969 in which his parents, and the whole community really, headed to the youth center at the city park/fairgrounds to be present for a phone call between John and his parents. John had the privilege to call his parents in Monticello, Iowa, while he was stationed in Vietnam.

     That prompted my interest in John’s story, and we were able to feature it in the Nov. 7, 2012 issue of the Express.

     My last visit with John was May 2018 when he and his children (Shannon, Jamie, and Jason) shared the news of the change in ownership of Julin Printing. John’s daughter Shannon Lambert was taking ownership. The family collectively felt John needed to retire and focus on his health.

     I’m sure his children and the employees of Julin will be the first to tell that despite John’s “retirement,” he didn’t fully leave the company, but popped in from time to time.

     I felt honored to occasionally showcase Julin Printing and the Williams family since coming to the Express 10 years ago.

     And hearing of John’s passing last week came as a shock and a loss to the community.

     I thoroughly enjoyed every time I got to interview John, knowing to block a couple of hours in my schedule to do so. It wasn’t a stiff interview, but a friendly conversation. Our interviews always veered off to John reminiscing about his hometown of Monticello or sharing the latest and greatest in the large-press printing business. John was always proud of how much commercial printing Julin’s employees produced on a daily or weekly basis, from start to finish.

     He always praised his employees for their dedication to the local business and long-time employment. This was quite obvious every time Julin flooded at its previous location and the employees would band together to elevate the presses or pitch in to clean up and to get operations back up and running. Julin rarely skipped a beat during the floods.

     My heartfelt condolences go out to John’s wife, Judy, his children, grandchildren and Julin employees.

     As his family shared his parting words, I feel they most definitely ring true… “May the work I have done speak for me.”



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