The Clarke Williams Story
Clarke Williams’ parents gave him Oak Ridge Telephone when he came home from World War II. Less of a gift than an albatross, the haphazard jumble of wires tacked to trees and fence posts served 75 customers and never made a profit.
Very few believed he could turn it around. The bank refused his first loan after his banker died just as new equipment arrived. He was too insignificant for underwriters and investors and too small to get even a small business loan. Backed into a corner, he prayed for an answer and within minutes a local farmer drove up offering to invest. Despite installing the second most advanced system in the state, Clarke Williams still had to climb poles in sun and sleet at all hours. He still worked second jobs to meet payroll and keep phones working. His family answered the switchboard in their living room.