CFVI Honors the Generous Spirit of Karen Hastie Williams

Karen Hastie Williams

September 30, 1944 to July 7, 2021

Karen Hastie Williams, age 76, succumbed in her decade-long battle with Alzheimer’s dementia, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, at approximately 12:00 noon, at her home in Washington, DC – in the grieving presence of her loving husband of 53 years, the Reverend Dr. Wesley Samuel Williams, Jr., the Williamses’ youngest son, Bailey Lockhart Williams, and Mrs. Williams’ devoted caretaker of the past five years, Mrs. Maureen Grant Fenton.

Karen Hastie Williams was born at Washington, DC’s Freedman’s Hospital (later renamed Howard University Hospital) September 30, 1944, to the Honorable William Henry Hastie, Jr., at the time Dean of Howard University’s Law School – but formerly United States District Judge for the U.S. Virgin Islands, and later, Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and finally Judge (ultimately Chief Judge) of the Third Circuit United States Court of Appeals – and Mrs. Beryl Lockhart Hastie, a Howard University graduate and life-long Virgin Islander.

Karen Hastie Williams is survived by, in addition to her husband, their three adult children – a daughter, Dr. Amanda P. Williams of Piedmont, California, together with the daughter’s two sons (William Ernest Calhoun and Samuel Albert Calhoun), a son, Wesley Hastie Williams of New York City, together with his daughter and son (Della Bathrus Williams and Carlisle Hastie Williams), and the son present at his mother’s death, Bailey Lockhart Williams of Washington, DC, together with his two daughters (Magnolia Jean Williams and Morgan Elizabeth Williams).  Mrs. Williams is also survived by a brother, William Henry Hastie, III, of Los Angeles, California, and by numerous cousins, especially in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as countless friends across the US (and in England and Japan).

Karen Hastie Williams received her high school diploma from Philadelphia’s academically selective Girls’ High School, her BA degree from Bates College, a certificate of proficiency from the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland), an MA degree from the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy, and, after a brief stint as a research fellow in the Middle-East Government Relations Division of Mobile Oil Company (in New York City), followed by legal studies in Washington, DC, a JD degree from the Catholic University of America, where she served as an associate editor of her law school’s law review, and at her graduation received awards for highest grades in two fields.

After law school, Karen Hastie Williams served two years as a law clerk for Chief Judge Spottswood W. Robinson, III, of the D.C. Circuit United States Court of Appeals, and then two additional years  as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall.  Afterwards, Karen Hastie Williams served from time to time on the staff of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on the District of Columbia, where her husband was a legal counsel, after which she moved on to the pioneering position of Chief Counsel for the then relatively new U.S. Senate Budget Committee, after which she was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, for the position of Administrator of the White House Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

With the 1980 change of Presidential Administration, Karen Hastie Williams entered the private practice of law, first as an associate with the Washington office of Fried Frank Harris Shriver and Kampelman, and then with the Washington office of Crowell & Moring where she started as counsel to the firm, but soon became an equity partner, putting to work her expertise in public contract law until her retirement in 2011.

In support of her legal career, Karen Hastie Williams maintained active involvement as a member of the American Bar Association (the “ABA”), the National Bar Association, the Washington Bar Association, and the National Contract Management Association.  Remarkably, in the ABA Karen Hastie Williams served for a term as Chairman of the  Section on Government Contract Law, and for a while also served the entire ABA as its Membership Chairman.

Karen Hastie Williams was also a towering force in the corporate, eleemosynary, and educational worlds, serving from time to time on the boards of Building Opportunities for Leadership Development (“BOLD”), Charles E. Smith Residential Realty Inc., Chubb Group of Insurance Cos., Continental (later, United) Airlines, Enterprise Foundation, Fannie Mae and Fannie Mae Foundation, Gannett Co., NAACP Legal Defense Fund, SunAmerica Inc., SunTrust Bank (holding company, later, Truist), SunTrust Bank/Greater Washington, Washington Gas Holdings, Inc. (later, WGL Holdings, Inc.), and WHSmith (UK), also the Black Student Fund, her alma mater Bates College, and her father’s alma mater Amherst College.  She was also an active member of the Trilateral Commission, and, after confirmation once more by the U.S. Senate, a member of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Oversight Board. 

Meanwhile, Karen Hastie Williams and her family were active members of St. John’s Episcopal Church, where she and her husband taught Sunday School for more than 30 years.  Additionally, since she was a practicing attorney, Karen Hastie Williams served several terms as a member of the ecclesiastical court (disciplinary board) of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.  Additionally, Mrs. Williams served on, and for three terms chaired, the governing board of National Cathedral School for Girls (“NCS”).  During this last, Karen Hastie Williams was especially proud of her service as chair of the NCS search committee for the school’s first female head, and her supportive role in the development of Washington National Cathedral’s Girls’ Choir.

Before the worsening of her infirmity, Karen Hastie Williams was an active member of The Links, Inc. service (and social) organization;  and both co-chaired (with Mrs. Marilyn Quayle) and later chaired the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s “Race for the Cure” (supporting breast cancer research); also, she and her husband were active albeit pioneering members of the Chevy Chase Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland, the City Tavern Club in Georgetown, the Waltz Group of Washington, DC, and the Yacht Club of  St. Thomas’ East End, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The funeral service for Karen Hastie Williams will be held on Saturday, July 24th, 1pm at the Williamses’ home parish of St. John’s Episcopal Church, at Black Lives Matter Plaza, 16th and H Streets, NW, Washington, DC, with a reception to follow at The Decatur House 1610 H Street — a three minute walk west of the church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make a donation to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  This can be accomplished in either one of two ways—sending a check by mail to 40 Rector Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY, 10006, attention: development (including a note that the gift is in memory of Karen Hastie Williams) OR using the following link 

The service will be streamed live at

Requiescat in Pace Divina.