History & Staff
We have years of experience caring for families, from all walks of life. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession, dedicated to excellence in service, and have the highest integrity.
In 1890 we began operating from a hardware store located on the old court house square downtown. Our business grew, and we moved to the Thomas residence on what is now North Main Street downtown. Richard “Dick” Williams owned and operated the company from 1944 until his death in 1985. Dick was well known for his compassion and dedication to service. Dick's son, Gene Williams continued the legacy of service established by his father from 1985 until his death in 2016. Under his direction, our company grew to three locations for the convenience of the families we serve. Today, Williams-Thomas is owned and operated by Gene's son, Rick Williams, who is a licensed funeral director.
Williams-Thomas Funeral Home was established on the idea of our family serving and helping other families who are experiencing their greatest loss.
Today, we are proud to be the oldest funeral and cremation company in the Alachua County area, deep-rooted in tradition and heritage. Rick Williams, along with his experienced staff, continue the legacy of his father and grandfather. Together, they uphold the tradition of trust and high quality service that has come to be expected from Williams-Thomas Funeral Homes for over 3 generations.
While remaining loyal to our roots as Gainesville's leading Funeral Home and Cremation Services provider, Williams- Thomas has enthusiastically embraced technology and contemporary ideas assuring our families' expectations are exceeded every day.
This modern approach is driven by the requests of numerous families seeking experiences which focus on the individuality of their family and that of their loved one who has passed. Our Life Tributes and Celebration Ceremonies are more creative and interactive leading to a unique experience for all who attend. And, our five Certified Life Celebrants are available to assist and guide you in creating a remembrance of a life well-lived.
Rick Williams, Licensed Funeral Director and Certified Life Tribute Celebrant
Richard Eugene “Rick” Williams, Jr. was also born and raised in Gainesville/Alachua County. He is not only following in his father’s footsteps, but those of his grandfathers. He represents the third generation of this family company. Following high school graduation, Rick attended and graduated from Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia and then from the Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service, Atlanta, Georgia. He is a licensed funeral director as well as a certified Life Tribute celebrant. He serves as President of the Independent Funeral Directors of Florida representing family owned funeral homes in our state. Rick has a reputation within the community for his genuine compassion and understanding when assisting bereaved families. His ability to identify a family’s needs and then help them arrange a more meaningful, personalized service is well known among area families. Rick and his wife Kelly enjoy raising their children, Blake, Hannah, and Lauren. The Williams family believe and follow the word of God and greatly appreciate assisting families from all backgrounds and denominations.
Vonda Williams, Licensed Funeral Director and Certified Life Tribute Celebrant
Vonda was raised in Oklahoma City, OK and earned a Masters Degree in Psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma. In 1994 she and her family moved and relocated to Florida. Vonda graduated from St. Petersburg College with certification in the Funeral Arts Program. She has been on staff at Williams-Thomas since February 2002. She is married to Gene Williams. She is very active in the community and throughout Alachua County. She supports numerous charitable organizations and regularly attends community events and fundraisers. She is a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville.
Margaret E. Dickens, Licensed Funeral Director and Certified Life Tribute Celebrant
Margaret has been a Florida Funeral Director and Embalmer since 1982. A native Floridian, she is a graduate of Apopka High School, Apopka, and Miami-Dade College of Mortuary Science, Miami. She attended Rollins College, Winter Park, FL. Margaret served as Secretary of Central Florida Funeral Directors Association, Orlando, and past president of Goldenrod Garden Club. She has been serving families in the funeral home before she became a licensed funeral director, working after school in high school, providing compassion, and attention to family details. Margaret is a certified Life Tribute celebrant. She is an active member of Westside Baptist Church. Margaret enjoys spending time with family and friends and the beach.
Alan H. Dean, Licensed Funeral Director and Certified Life Tribute Celebrant
Alan is a native of North Florida, a graduate of Chiefland High School and of the Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service. He has been a licensed funeral director and a certified Life Tribute celebrant in Florida since 1990 and has been with Williams-Thomas Funeral Home since 2007. He is married to Shannon Dean, and has two children, Justin and Jordan. Along with serving families as a funeral director, Alan is the person who is able to assist families in designing memorial headstones or cemetery plaques for our firm. He, along with his family, attends Anthem Church in Gainesville.
Jeffrey Eugene Leivonen, Preplanning Consultant
Jeffrey Eugene "Jeff" Leivonen is a native Floridian born in Gainesville, Florida and raised in the Newberry/ Alachua County area. Following high school graduation, Jeff attended and graduated from Santa Fe Community College, Gainesville, Florida and then continued his education at The University of Florida and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology. He is a licensed Florida Insurance Agent with Homesteaders Life Company. Jeff has served as the "Preplanning Consultant" with the firm since 2005. His personal philosophy when helping families with their arrangements can be defined this way: "To professionally, ethically, and caringly explain the advantages and benefit of before need planning." Jeff enjoys spending time with his family, especially his wife, Amy and children, Anthony and Adriana.
Pegi Hanchey, Office Manager
Pegi has been a part of the Williams-Thomas family since 2007. A native of Punta Gorda, Florida she and her husband, Bill, have resided in Levy County for over 20 years. They have four grown children and two granddaughters. In her free time Pegi enjoys reading and spending time with family and friends.
Anita Larsen, Administrative Assistant
Anita has been with Williams-Thomas since October of 2010. She has lived in rural Gainesville all of her life. She enjoys spending time with her family and in her spare time likes to crochet and read.
Charles William (Bill) Townsend, Funeral Attendant
Bill Townsend was born on August 2, 1944 in Gainesville, Florida. He attended J.J. Finley Elementary School, Buchholz Middle School and Gainesville High School and then graduated in 1966 from The University of Florida.
Bill has owned or operated many businesses in the Gainesville area, some of which were Ideal Laundry, Teddy Bear Nursery School and Alachua County Feed and Seed Store.
After retiring in 2006, Bill went to work for the Williams family at Williams-Thomas Funeral Home.
Bill has been married for 51 years to Linda Chiappini Townsend.