In Memoriam: K F. Williams

by Stage Directions
K F. Williams
K F. Williams

K Frances Williams died on September 17, 2018, after a brief illness. In Williams long career in theater and the arts, she was a lighting designer, theater consultant, theater teacher, production manager, dean, and much more. Here is a brief biography of her life.

Williams was born in Savannah, TN on March 4, 1952, has an undergraduate degree in technical theatre from the University of Florida, and an MFA in lighting design from Indiana University. Williams’s professional life was wide ranging: beginning as a high school theatre teacher and lighting designer, she sustained a nearly fatal injury in her early thirties while hanging lights for a performance. She fought her way back, first becoming the production manager for the Indianapolis Opera, and later taking the helm as the Executive Producer of Indianapolis’s venerable Starlight Musicals.

Later, she established a thriving theatrical consultancy business, SiG productions, through which she took on exciting projects as varied as theatrical architectural consulting, producing nationally and internationally recognized arts programming (notably, programs at the Smithsonian Museums and The Library of Congress), international tours (the Fez Project), and groundbreaking new operas and musicals. Among the many leaders in the theatrical and operatic fields with whom Williams worked include Steven Sondheim, Mitch Miller, Roger Reynolds, Leontyne Price and many others.

Reinventing herself once again, Williams moved into full- time university administration, as Dean of the College of Performing Arts at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Throughout, Williams’s genius at supporting artists and mentoring young people was selfless and committed. K was a great connector of people: she was continually introducing friends with similar needs or interests and putting excellent groups of artists together, spurring them on to make their best work.

Williams’s personal life was colorful as well as artful. After two early marriages, she finally married the love of her life, Doug Vaughn, on New Year’s Eve, 1982. They had lovely homes in several cities, filled with art and books, from which they entertained and collected many interesting friends from a variety of fields. Williams’s exquisite cooking and taste in wines fueled many a late-night conversation. They also loved to travel, and Williams particularly enjoyed exposing her nieces and nephews to new experiences and parts of the world. Williams was an incomparable arts consumer and commentator, and a fierce example of living an artful life to its fullest.

Williams was a member of Class XVI of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Program which produced cherished friendships with many Indianapolis area leaders. Memorial contributions in the name of K F. Williams may be made to Leadership Indianapolis, the home of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series, at: Leadership Indianapolis, c/o CICF, 615 N. Alabama, #119, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Williams and Vaughn returned to Indianapolis in July 2018, intending to make it their retirement home. She was enjoying reconnecting with many friends and arts institutions when her illness struck. Williams is renowned among her friends and family for loyalty and generosity, for truly living life to its fullest and teaching others to do so by example.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Elvin and Charlyne Williams. She is survived by her husband, Douglas R. Vaughn, two stepchildren, Claire (Mark), and Dylan (Andrea), two sisters, Beth Williams Douglas (John), Susan Williams Clarke (Jerry) a brother, Herbert Williams (Amber), brothers in law: David Vaughn (Sarah), Charles Vaughn, Joe Vaughn (Jeanne), Dickie Vaughn (Carolyn), Paul Vaughn (Jenny), Tony Vaughn (Pam), and sister in law, Laura Lee Nadell (Dave). Williams’s Nieces and nephews include: Michael Douglas (Lorelei), Emily Clarke Dunbar (Dustin), Jonathan Douglas (Annyetta), Sarah Williams Kolb (Brian), Joseph Williams (Megan), Joshua Clarke (Courtney), Evan Williams (Danielle), Jenny Mercer (Ben), Steven Vaughn, Aaron Vaughn (Renee), David Vaughn, Ann-Marie Grasanti (Nick), Elaine Hall (Wes), Christopher Nadell, Matthew Nadell, Sarah Rose Nadell, Jack Vaughn. Williams is also blessed with many grand nieces and nephews, as well as a wide collection of friends from across the nation.