C. Peyton “Moses” Williams, 62: Rushed to marry his love before he died

When Peyton “Moses” Williams found out he was dying from lung cancer, there were two things he had to do: Get right with God and marry his companion of seven years, and in that order.

Neither was supposed to come with fanfare, but the task of marrying his love proved to be a bit harder than anyone thought it would be.

“We thought we could just do it at the hospital,” said Ruth Ann Terry of Smyrna.

The only way Terry and Williams could legally marry was if they both appeared at the Cobb County courthouse, she said. Williams’ health was deteriorating more quickly than his family had expected, so putting off the wedding was not an option.

The wedding took place on Oct. 15 outside the Cobb courthouse in an ambulance.

Carl Peyton “Moses” Williams III died two days later on the morning of Oct. 17 of complications from cancer. He was 62.

Williams’ body was cremated and a memorial service was held Saturday at SouthCare Cremation & Funeral Society, which was also in charge of arrangements.

Williams was born in Ohio, but spent part of his youth in Arizona. He had a career in law enforcement that spanned more than two decades, said his son, Michael Williams of Marietta. He worked in Arizona and Alaska, then moved to Marietta around 2003 to help his sister, Tina Williams, care for their mother. While in Georgia he started working as a real estate appraiser, Terry said.

Terry and Williams met in 2005 after a brief online romance as she made plans to move from Arkansas to Georgia to be closer to one of her sons. After talking to Williams for a little over a month, she knew “he’d be a good fit.”

Soon, the two moved in together. Marriage came up, but neither was in a hurry since they’d both been married before. But the end-stage cancer diagnosis Williams received on Oct. 4 changed everything.

Getting the ailing Williams to the courthouse was no small feat, his son and wife said. But teamwork and the kindness of strangers made it all possible.

“When we got to the courthouse I went in and filled out paperwork, and somebody from the courthouse went out to the ambulance to get Moses to look over it,” she said. “I guess we drew a little attention.”

None of this would have been possible without the determination of Ron Daniel, the Piedmont Hospital chaplain who met with Williams when he was admitted just before Columbus Day.

“He was so moved by what Moses wanted to do,” Terry said. “He made all of this happen.”

After the ceremony, officiated by Daniel, the newlyweds posed for a picture in the back of the ambulance.

“That we had all these wonderful people here to give us an opportunity to do this means a lot to me,” a breathless Williams said after the ceremony.

“He’s accepted the Lord and we got married and that’s the last thing on our list,” Terry added.

Michael Williams said his biggest concern was that his father be at peace when he died, and thanks to Daniel, the story had a happy ending.

“I tell you he was amazing through all of this,” Williams said of the chaplain. “It just all worked out like it was supposed to. It was just one big blessing.”

In addition to his wife, son and sister, Williams is survived by daughters, Melanie Williams Richardson of Cape Fair, Mo., and Tracy Hazen of Palmer, Alaska; son Jamie Williams of Albuquerque, N.M.; brother Paul Williams of Lincoln, Neb.; stepsons, Stephen Jacobsen of Cherokee Village, Ark., Jake Jacobsen of St. Augustine Fla., and Keith Jacobsen of Marietta; and eight grandchildren.

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