Doug Williams loved chocolate chip pancakes, good coffee and a cold beer. He also loved running, and every Sunday, he could be found taking his familiar route starting at Grove Street Pharmacy and weaving through the streets of Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield.
Phil Coffin, a fellow runner and an editor at the New York Times who knew Williams for 13 years, spoke with Williams’ sister Rosemary (who, like her brother Doug, had qualified for the Boston Marathon this year). Coffin learned Williams had been at Tierney’s, having a beer with one of his brothers on Saturday night. He stopped to pick up pizza at Nauna’s before walking home toward his condo on Claremont Ave. Williams, 49, was then struck and killed by a hit and run driver on Upper Mountain Ave., near Van Vleck Road.
“Doug was a great team mate and just a kind, gentle person,” says Coffin, who has run thousands of miles alongside Williams over the years. “Most people didn’t know how funny he was. He had this quiet, dry wit, and he could come out with some great one-line zingers.”
Williams was known for running up a particular road with a very steep incline on his Sunday runs. “It was near Bradford Ave. and it’s probably one of the worst hills you could ever run,” says Coffin. “Doug did it on a dare one time and after that it became named the Williams Ascension Extension or WAE. We’d all say to each other ‘You want to do the WAE?'”
Coffin says Williams’ Essex Running Club friends are already talking about a memorial run at some point soon, maybe covering the route he took every Sunday, and remembering him by ending with his favorite things — chocolate chip pancakes, coffee and beer.
Photos: Desmond Duncker, fellow Essex Running Club Member