1970 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"Live the life that you should live. Rear your children to be good, law-abiding citizens, and contribute to other people and to your country as well."
Jackie Williams was born in rural Georgia, where he helped his father till the soil on a farm near the small town of Axson. His family had no access to a telephone or newspapers, so Williams grew up with limited exposure to the outside world.
In high school, he took the initiative to organize a student government association and then became its president. He also served as a state officer of the Future Farmers of America. He paid his way through college at Georgia Southern by selling cars part time. While still a student, he married and decided to start a mobile home business in Athens, Georgia, where he continued his education at the University of Georgia. He borrowed $7,000 to buy three mobile homes and started what eventually became AAA Enterprises.
From this meager beginning in 1958, AAA Enterprises became the nation's largest franchiser of mobile homes. In 1974, however, Williams's company went bankrupt. For the next several years, he built up a business in investment banking, and then got back into the mobile home business. He sold out in 1986. Next, he started Jackie Williams, Limited, which does mergers and acquisitions. "I feel like I've won the Horatio Alger Award twice," he says. "I went broke in 1974, four years after I won the award, and I had to come up by those 'bootstraps' again, but I did and I learned a great deal from that experience." Proud of his Horatio Alger Award, Williams says, "It is great to be recognized for my hard work and dedication to the free enterprise system. I am especially happy to see the development of the National Scholars program, which helps with the education of our future leaders."
Williams is active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and at one time supported six full-time missionaries in the United States and abroad. He has served on the board of Georgia State College and the Georgia Governor's Committee for Housing. He was also named as one of the Jaycee's five Outstanding Men in Georgia for his accomplishments in business and service to the community.
Williams says that success to him really is "living the life that one should live, rearing one's children to be good, law-abiding citizens, and contributing to other people and to your country as well. " He advises young people who want to follow in his footsteps to "get a few years of experience working with someone else to broaden your horizons, save your money, and get into business for yourself as quickly as you are financially and mentally prepared to do so."