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Even when he was having dialysis treatments, Randy Williams’ love for baseball and working with kids never diminished.
It did, however, force him to readjust how much he could do with the sport he loved. A coach for 30 years with Lorena Little League and an umpire for 22 years, Williams had to give up calling balls and strikes as a plate umpire because it’s too hard on his legs these days. He has been a base umpire on occasion since getting a kidney transplant 2½ years ago.
But he’s still volunteering and serving as the Texas District 9 Little League assistant administrator. He’s been in that role since 2013 after the death of longtime friend Pete Swain, who has a field named for him in Lorena.
Williams, 60, was an offshore oil refinery worker with Oxy Petroleum from 1980 to 2000, but grew tired of being away from family so much. He traveled from Lorena to Austin for his job with Relief Enterprises for the next 10 years, but was able to make it home and be involved with baseball, including coaching his sons. He also coached his daughter in softball.
Health issues began to surface in 2010; he would suddenly get dizzy and sometimes fell, he said. His kidneys were failing but a diagnosis eluded doctors for a while until Mayo Clinic physicians determined he had autonomic dysfunction. He started the four-hour, thrice-a-week dialysis treatments and went on the transplant list.
He was on dialysis for four years until a KWTX-TV story in 2016 on his search for a donor caught the attention of a Riesel woman who happened to be watching the broadcast that night.
“She said she felt God was telling her she needed to give me a kidney,” he said. Turns out she was a perfect match, and he underwent the transplant procedure.
He isn’t able to work a regular job, but Williams volunteers as much as he can at the ballfield.
“Nothing smells better than cut green grass,” he said.
Among his favorite memories with the sport is following the Lake Air Little League softball team when it won the World Series in 2017. He presented the team its banner after winning sectionals in West and watched the team in person at the Southwest Regional in Waco.
In addition to his volunteer work with District 9 Little League and helping with the regional tournament every August, Williams tackles his wife’s honey-do list daily.
He’s also drawn to helping others.
“There’s been times that I’ve said, ‘God, why do you keep me here?’ ” he said. “But He always puts something in front of me. I’m here to help someone. I go to the store and maybe it’s an older lady who needs help getting her shopping basket to the car.
“There are opportunities to help. He wants me to do good works. And there’s a joy I feel from doing that.”