Pass It On®

Williams billboard

It’s never too late to learn.” Alferd Williams

About This Billboard

Alferd Williams was born in 1937 in Eudora, Arkansas, one of nine children in his family. When he was a boy, his parents, who worked as sharecroppers, could not afford for both Alferd and his twin brother to be gone all day to school. In order for both boys to get some education, Alferd’s mother devised a plan to alternate days where one twin would go to school while the other stayed home to help on the farm. However, Alferd’s twin would often rise early and sneak away to school, leaving Alferd to work long days on the farm throughout his school years. As a result, Alferd never learned to read.

Decades later, Alferd, then a resident of Saint Joseph, Missouri, began to help a single mother by walking her three children to and from school. The 68-year-old Alferd acted as a parent to the children and helped care for them every afternoon. What he could not help them with, however, was their homework.

When Alesia Hamilton, the first-grade teacher of one of the children, discovered that Alferd could not read the notes she had been sending home with the children, she began to teach him how to read. In the fall of 2006, Alferd enrolled as a first-grade student.

After completing the first grade, Alferd chose to stay in Alesia’s class and continue to learn with the new first-graders. Alesia encouraged Alferd’s passion for reading and, eventually, for teaching children to read. In fact, parents said their children would come home excited, with stories about how Alferd had helped them learn to read.

Alferd’s dream was to continue his work in Alesia’s class until he completed his GED. He wasn’t able to achieve that dream before his death in 2015, at age 77, having reached a third-grade reading level.

Of course, Alferd’s true accomplishments are much greater than reading alone. His legacy will live on in the generations of students, parents, teachers and community members he inspired. His name lives on, too, in the Alferd Williams Literacy Award, presented each year since 2009 by UPS and the Toys for Tots Literacy Program.

Literacy changed Alferd’s life, allowed him to fulfill his promise to his mother and opened a world of opportunities for him, as well as those who were fortunate to know him. His story shows that it is never too late to learn.

Literacy. Pass It On!

This billboard about Literacy features Alferd Williams.

See Other Inspiring Billboards

  • Perseverance shaquille oneal
  • Soul mahatma gandhi
  • Giving back andre agassi
  • Volunteering shifra mincer
  • Character jackie robinson
  • Williams small new
  • Achievement neil armstrong
  • Devotion team hoyt
  • Inspiration norman rockwell
  • Mentoring david foster
  • Leadership george washington
  • Inspiration nelson mandela
  • Fitness linda fondren
  • Confidence albert einstein
  • Opportunity justin stokes miracle league

View Full Billboard Collection

Pass It On®


hello, inspirational
anonymus, Hawaii

<3 This
Lee, stampy's lovely world

<3 it
Mumble, Unknown

Keep, Up the good work

That is SUPER inspirational!

jack, texas

That is SUPER inspirational!
Anonymous , Hawaii

so inspiring, love it <3
lesly, denver, colorado

WOOOHOOOO!! Congrats.
Jessica , Denver, Colorado

I've been an adult literacy tutor for 10 years. I've learnt more from my students than they could ever possibly learn from me. Rock on literacy.
Diane, Dublin, Ireland

I agree - it is never too late to learn. Even when we are elderly, we still keep learning something that is brand-new every day... :)

RIP I love you uncle!

This was my grandpa. He passed away yesterday. He inspired me that it's never too late to reach your goals in life. My family and I have truly lost a treasure. His aspirations and dreams will live on in his kids, grand kids, and great grand kids. We love you grandpa!

This is what living is all about and this video really set my tone for the day, Thank you.
Mr.Kristian, Fishers, IN

It really is never to late to learn. Even though your old, it doesn't mean you can't be as smart as the others.
Reyna , Rowland Heights,CA

Such an inspiring story. Congratulations to the teacher who was willing to assist him. Hope it will be an inspiration for others. It is never too late to achieve your goals.
Esther Stewart, Trinidad

wow im proud of him
hayley, washington

I want to teach an adult how to read, as a volunteer. Where can I go to find a chance to do this?
Sally Fisher, New York City

Love this story. SO inspiring! Saw the billboard last week and had to learn more about Alferd's story. Thanks for sharing, and thanks to The Foundation for a Better Life being a big part of making me a person, husband, and father to be! God bless you!
Joe Dapper, Barre, MA

good Job man
riley clayton robinson, Walnut, Ms