On April 26, life was relatively normal for Brian Perkins.
His auto repair shop brought food to his kitchen table. A chair at that table was designated for his son, Marcellis Williamson, who had moved home following his college graduation and was preparing for professional football tryouts the next month.
But Perkins’ world changed drastically the next day, when he received word that his son had been hospitalized at Euclid Hospital. Later during the afternoon of April 27, Williamson died of pulmonary thrombosis — a blood clot in his lung,
A month after Williamson’s death, Perkins, his family and the Ohio football community are left to pick up the pieces and restore any semblance of normalcy possible without one of the biggest influences in their lives.
“It’s been pretty difficult, but our family, we look at the fact of how Marcellis was and how he’d want us to get back to some normalcy,” Perkins said. “Life will never be normal again without him, but as normal as we can go through day to day.”
Perkins owns New Generation Auto Body, Inc. in Cleveland. He took several weeks away from his business following his son’s death but recently returned to the whirring machinery that has become part of his daily routine.
“I just came back to work last week,” Perkins said. “I’m just trying to ease back into the day to day, getting things back to as normal as possible.”
Williamson’s time at home was spent preparing for a tryout with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. His tryout was scheduled for May 17, Perkins said, adding that Williamson had also been in contact with another CFL squad.
The Marcellis Williamson Memorial Fund has collected more than $8,600 since it was established April 28. In conjunction with Leghorn’s Restaurant, the Ohio cheerleading squad raised $1,200 during a May 15 car wash fundraiser.
“An alum from Japan mailed in a donation,” said Jason Grooms, director of Football Operations. “It has been far reaching and a very good outpouring of support.”
Perkins said two buses full of football players and coaches travelled to Cleveland for Williamson’s funeral on May 7. The memorial fund completely covered all funeral expenses, Grooms said, adding that about half of the fund remains to honor the former nose guard at Peden Stadium or the team’s practice facility.
“There’s a want on all ends, family and football, to do something to memorialize Marcellis,” Grooms said. “We have not defined anything yet, but we have several things we have talked about.”
One option Perkins has discussed with Grooms is putting a bust of Williamson at the stadium. Perkins said the bust was still “just an idea” and that remaining funds following the commemoration would be donated to charity.
The football team also will commemorate its fallen comrade with a logo on the back of Ohio’s football helmets next year. Ohio equipment director Matt Morton designed the logo, which will feature a black “6” with the word “Deuce” written behind in white. Grooms said Williamson was known as “Six-Deuce” in the Bobcat community.
“He was a great Bobcat that epitomized everything that we asked and continue to ask our football players and student-athletes at our university,” Grooms said.
Back at New Generation Auto Body, Perkins now begins a new era in which his son is not present. But thanks to the Bobcat community, he said, life will continue to progress — in first gear, if need be.
“Ohio University has been a sensation source of support for our family at this time,” Perkins said. “Without them, I’m not sure how things would have gone.”