The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 15, 2020 1:00 am

'Man with Horn' had his own style

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

He may be remembered as “The Man with the Horn,” but Famious Williams, who died Oct. 29, was also the first Black man to run for mayor of Fort Wayne.

His first run for the Democratic nomination in 1971 was followed by more attempts in the 1970s, as well as runs in the '80s and '90s when Democrats Win Moses and Ivan Lebamoff and Republican Paul Helmke prevailed, according to an obituary sent to The Journal Gazette.

Williams, who was 80 when he died, mixed politics with music. Fort Wayne City Councilwoman Sharon Tucker remembers Williams playing his saxophone at Democratic Party meetings.

Born with the name Famous, he legally added the extra “i” to “provide further distinction and distinguishment,” his obituary said.

Williams was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, received a bachelor's degree in engineering from the Indiana Institute of Technology and a master's degree in psychology from Ball State University. He was a teacher at Fort Wayne Community Schools and East Allen Community Schools and worked in the banking sector and the Allen Superior Court system, the obituary said.

He attended the 1963 civil rights march in Washington, D.C., where he heard Dr. Martin Luther King deliver his “I Have A Dream” speech.

But it was his style he was perhaps best known for – besides playing the horn.

His style was “jazzy,” wife Arlene Kelly wrote, “matching from head to toe: the finest shoes, every color suit, handkerchief, pocket square, hats and even sunglasses.” He had an array of hats including “his favorite fedoras, ascots, trilbys, Pork Pies and caps.” His favorite car was a Lincoln Continental and he often kept “three or four cars in his possession at any given time.”

“Everybody will always remember he ran for mayor,” said Allen County Councilwoman Sheila Curry Campbell, whose mother lived near Williams in the La Rez neighborhood. “He was very active in the neighborhood and he didn't leave home without his saxophone.”

Stating his case

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun suggested last week that the presidential election results were far closer than national vote tallies indicated. But he had to throw out the ballots from the nation's most populous state to arrive at that conclusion.

Braun, R-Ind, said Americans should let President Donald Trump's challenge to election results and procedures “play itself out.”

“When you look at how close the election was, basically a tie vote in the popular vote if you take out the margin of difference in California (and) electorally as close as it was back in '16, we need to be sure that we may get a result that we're all content with so we can move forward in a unified way,” Braun said Tuesday in a media conference call.

At the time he spoke, President-elect Joe Biden was thumping Trump by a nearly 2-1 margin out of more than 15 million ballots counted in California, and he had a small edge in the rest of the states combined. So Braun's argument might have been technically correct if constitutionally flawed, as every state's votes are counted. 

As of Friday afternoon, Biden had received 77.7 million votes to Trump's 72.4 million. Both presidential candidates received boosts from the nation's most-populous states: Biden took California and New York for a combined 84 votes in the Electoral College, while Trump carried Texas and Florida and their 67 electoral votes. 

As for how close the Electoral College voting was, Trump finished with a 304-227 advantage over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and Biden ended up with a 306-232 lead over Trump on Friday after results were called in Georgia and North Carolina. For comparison's sake, George W. Bush won by five electoral votes in 2000 and by 35 four years later.

Gracious loser

Details in the East Allen County Schools board room didn't escape member Bob Nelson's notice Tuesday – even while participating via Zoom.

Nelson, who was denied a third term in the Nov. 3 election, spotted his District 5R successor on his screen. At least he was confident he did.

“I'm not very good at recognizing people from the back, but I think Jenny Blackburn may be there,” Nelson said over Zoom to his colleagues participating in person.

A camera was set up in the room so those at home could watch the meeting online, a setup the board has regularly used during the pandemic.

“I just wanted to introduce her to the board,” Nelson said.

Blackburn turned and waved to the camera.

“Thanks, Bob,” she said.

Council break

The Fort Wayne City Council will not meet this week, City Clerk Lana Keesling said.

The council's Tuesday schedule called for a committee session, during which bills are discussed and given a preliminary vote. However, only three bills were introduced Tuesday – a consolidated sewer project contract, a building security contract for Citizens Square and approval of the annual budget for the Allen County Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board.

A fourth bill, to reinstate collective bargaining for city employees, failed to receive enough votes to be introduced and will not be discussed.

The council will next meet Nov. 24 in both committee and regular session to consider previously introduced bills. 

Are you there?

Julie Hollingsworth recognized Monday that leading a school board meeting requires extra patience when a member participates by phone.

It only took the Fort Wayne Community Schools board's first vote of the night – approval of routine items including previous meeting minutes, payroll and personnel changes – for Hollingsworth to adjust her pace.

“All those in favor, signify by saying, 'Aye,''' said Hollingsworth, board president.

“Aye,” the members participating in person said.

“Opposed?” Hollingsworth continued. “And Glenna?”

“Aye,” member Glenna Jehl's voice sounded from the telephone.

“I should have paused longer,” Hollingsworth said. “I'll do that next time.”

And she did, even taking care to listen to Jehl's response when the board voted to adjourn. She leaned toward the phone, asking, “Glenna?” She was met by silence. Even so, the meeting ended.

Dave Gong, Ashley Sloboda and Jamie Duffy of The Journal contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at

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