Rep. Quentin Williams, D-Middletown, made a final visit to the state Capitol on Wednesday, a hearse carrying his remains to a brief and poignant prayer service on a windswept walkway overlooking Bushnell Park.
A pair of motorcycle police officers from Middletown, the community that sent him to Hartford as the first Black person elected from the 100th House District, escorted the cortege.
Fraternity brothers from Alpha Phi Alpha, the oldest Black fraternity in America, walked his widow, Carrissa Phillippe Williams, and his mother, Queen Esther Williams, to chairs by the waiting Pastor A.J. Johnson, the deputy chaplain of the General Assembly.
Williams, 39, was killed in a collision with a wrong-way driver as he drove home last week from the governor’s inaugural ball in Hartford. Last Wednesday also was the first day of the legislative session and his third term in the General Assembly.
“A friend has been lost, a husband will be missed, and collectively we grieve the absence of our dear brother,” said Johnson, the only speaker Wednesday. “Rep. Williams was loved. He was loved by his family, his mother Queen, and his wife Carrissa, and his fraternity.”
There were no eulogies, no speeches from the throngs of politicians.
The crowd included all six statewide constitutional officers — Gov. Ned Lamont, Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas, Comptroller Sean Scanlon, Treasurer Erick Russell and Attorney General William Tong — as well as U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, House and Senate leaders and scores of his rank-and-file colleagues.
A funeral will be held Saturday at Cross Street A.M.E. Zion Church in Middletown, where Williams worshipped and was an usher. Seating is limited and by invitation only, the family said in a paid obituary. The service will be live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube at https://www.crossstreetamezion.org and https://firstname.lastname@example.org.
A public memorial is scheduled for Jan. 28 at The First Cathedral in Bloomfield.
Reps. Manny Sanchez of New Britain and Antonio Felipe of Bridgeport, both members of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, presented Williams’ family with his name plate from his desk in the House and other keepsakes of his service in Hartford.
Two Capitol police officers knelt before Williams’ wife and mother and presented them with folded flags. A firefighter struck a bell three times, once for each of Williams’ three terms.
There was knowing laughter when Johnson recalled entering a downtown restaurant after a UConn game, hearing the deep and unmistakable laugh of Williams, who was widely known simply as Q.
“Let’s not forget the beautiful person that God gave us,” Johnson said. “Let us not take our own life for granted. We don’t know the time, the hour, the minute or the day, so I challenge each and every one of you to live on purpose.”
The men of Alpha Phi Alpha escorted Williams’ survivors back to their car. Carrissa Williams, a psychologist who practices in Middletown, paused for a long moment while she held her right hand flat against the side of the hearse.