Dr. Robert Lee Williams, whose 40-year medical career included two years as medical director of one of the first health maintenance organizations in San Diego, died of congestive heart failure May 20. He was 82.
Dr. Williams, who died in his Bay Park home, retired in 1976 after more than 25 years in private practice in San Diego. He began his medical career in 1936 at an Atlanta clinic that evolved into the Centers for Disease Control. Three years later, Dr. Williams joined the Stevenson Chartres Martin Medical Group in San Diego, which later became the Complete Service Bureau and the San Diego Health Association -- a forerunner of what today are known as HMOs. He served as the group's medical director from 1946 to 1948. In 1966, the organization merged with Kaiser Permanente Medical Center.
Dr. Williams served 22 years as examining physician for the City of San Diego, testifying as a police surgeon in many cases for the District Attorney's Office. Because his office was near Balboa Park, he took particular interest in that area, coining the name Park West for the neighborhood along Fifth and Sixth avenues.
He served as president of that area's civic association and was instrumental in persuading city officials to erect a fence on Cabrillo Bridge to help prevent suicides.
Dr. Williams belonged to The Committee of 100 to Save Balboa Park and several medical and professional organizations.
He enjoyed traveling, particularly to Yosemite, and was an avid mountain climber as a member of the Sierra Club. He scaled such summits as Mount Whitney, San Gorgonio, San Jacinto and Dana over the years.
Born in Demopolis, Ala., one of seven sons of a Methodist minister, Dr. Williams earned his medical degree at Emory University in Alabama.
He was a medical officer for three years during World War II in the Army Air Forces.
He is survived by his daughter, Mary Ann De La Hunt, of Chula Vista; two sons, George, of Santa Monica, and Robert Jr., of Atlanta; four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; and his former wife, Amanda Williams, of San Diego.