WINSTON-SALEM. N.C. — The founder of the company that would one day grow into WilcoHess LLC has passed away. A. Tab Williams Jr., 88, died Oct. 25 at his home here.
"He was a wonderful father," Arthur Williams, one of his four children, told the Winston-Salem Journal. "He raised four children while he and my mom started a new business. He raised us to be independent and free thinkers and to follow our own paths."
Williams grew up on his father's farm in Pitt County, North Carolina. He graduated in 1950 from N.C. State University with a bachelor's degree in agronomy and settled in Winston-Salem as an assistant farm agent for Forsyth County.
He served two years in the Army during the Korean War.
After returning home, Williams became the sales supervisor for the Winston-Salem Tobacco Board of Trade in January 1955. Two years later, he joined Taylor Oil Co., a business owned by his father-in-law, Roby Taylor. He worked there six years.
In 1963, Tab Williams and his wife, Elizabeth, founded the A.T. Williams Oil Co., a business that began as six gas stations and grew to 365 stations and 51 restaurants in seven states by 2009.
In 2001, Williams entered a joint venture with Amerada Hess Corp., now Hess Corp., to form WilcoHess. In September 2014, it, along with the rest of the Hess gas chain, was acquired by Speedway LLC in a $2.8-billion deal. More than 1,200 WilcoHess stores began converting to Speedway in October 2014.