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Preserving Family Tradition

Alumnus Jack Williams ventures into the world of entrepreneurship.

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By Mike Greife
Cover Story Jack Williams

A trip down the aisles of a metropolitan Kansas City specialty food market yields a multitude of temptations. Among the rows of quart jars of pickles lining the shelves are those with a photo of somebody's grandmother on the label. In fact, that's the name of the product -- Great Gran's Home Style Pickles.

But the lady on the label is not just anybody's grandmother. The gray-haired woman in the photo wearing glasses, a pearl necklace and a lace collar is Angeline Morelli-Buzzetti, the great-grandmother of UCM alumnus Jack Williams. With her recipe that has been passed down through four generations of his family, Williams has turned a retirement hobby into a growing enterprise by making his great-grandmother's pickles in his own Overland Park, Kan., basement and marketing them through area specialty retail outlets.

For Williams, it's about carrying on a family tradition. His great-grandfather's family emigrated from Gallivaggio, Italy, to America in the 1880s. His great-grandparents settled on a small farm near Cassville, Mo., where his great-grandfather, S.S.A. Buzzetti, became a telegrapher for the railroad. The two- story house he built, known to the locals as the Buzzetti house, is still standing.

Williams graduated from high school in Nevada, Mo., in 1966, beginning his college career at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. He transferred to UCM as a junior, enrolled in the ROTC program and received a degree in drafting and a commission in the U.S. Army. After serving two years on active duty, he returned to UCM to obtain a master's degree in industrial technology management in 1974. He then began his 35-year career as an industrial engineer and project manager with Hallmark Cards, Inc., while continuing to serve in the U.S. Army National Guard.

Williams left the National Guard briefly in the 1980s, returning to UCM to obtain a Master of Business Administration degree in 1981. He returned to the National Guard while continuing his career at Hallmark, serving in various units and retiring as a major in 1997.

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