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'Dit' Williams, World of Clothing founder, dies at age 92

Robert Ditmore "Dit" Williams, who parlayed the free socks he gave truckers for filling up at his truck stop into the World of Clothing, died Friday at Life Care Center of Hendersonville after a long period of declining health. He was 92.


The son of Donnie A. Williams and Nellie Gosnell Williams, he is survived by brothers Eugene Williams; Walker Williams, and his wife, Kathy; Gilbert Williams, and his wife, Carol; and sisters Judy Williams; Marie Parris, and her husband, Raymond; Julia Sprouse, and her husband, Rufus. Preceding him in death were brothers Andrew Williams, Water Williams, Billy Williams and M.L. Williams and a sister, Annie Medley.

He is also survived by his wife, Donnie A. Williams; daughter J. Beth Williams; stepsons Greg Albea, and his wife, Julie; Hayes Albard, and his wife, Jennifer; Chris Albea; Adrian Kerley, and his wife, Joan, and their five children; stepdaughter JoAnn Harrison; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews and the devoted employees of the World of Clothing, some of whom started working for him in the 1970s.

After serving in the U.S. Army during the Koreah War, Williams stayed in the service, retiring as a chief warrant officer after 20 years. After his retirement in 1973, he opened a truck stop in Saluda. As an incentive to sell fuel, he would give truckers cigarettes if they filled up, the family said in an obituary. Nonsmokers also wanted a premium for filling up, Williams had the idea of giving them socks, and thus was born the World of Clothing, a discount store before Walmart and Target that was popular with local shoppers and drew tourists off the interstate highway.

Williams opened the first World of Clothing in 1977, moving to the current location on Sugarloaf Road in 1980. Over the year, he helped people by giving them clothes. helped the elderly and gave scholarships to high school seniors.

A gradeside service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that memorial contributions be made to Four Seasons Hospice, 571 S. Allen Road, Flat Rock, N.C. 28731 or to the Dana Fire  Rescue, both of which served Williams tremendously during the last years of his life.