Local attorney dies helping neighbor

By Derrick Perkins (Courtesy photo)

Mourners turned out in droves Tuesday to remember attorney Peter Williams, who died helping a neighbor clear a driveway of snow after last week’s storm.

Though a Fairfax County resident, Williams, 67, was well known in the Port City, where he had his law office. A member of the Rotary Club of Alexandria, the attorney was lauded for his good works in the community.

Peter Knetemann, the local club president, recalled Williams getting involved in charitable efforts soon after joining the group in 2011. He helped organize the club’s annual Taste for Giving event, which raises money for area charities.

When he died, he was in the early-planning stages of launching a Wounded Warrior reintegration project, Knetemann said.

“That just started, so it’s a bit premature, but that just shows you where his heart lay,” he said. “He and I had been working very closely together, and he was fast becoming a very close friend. He was just a cool guy — easy-going, insightful, really very helpful [and] big-hearted.”

Holly Dougherty, executive director of the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce, primarily knew Williams through his fiancée, Katy Fike. They were to be married in May.

“He was just an interesting person to be around. We just all really enjoyed his company,” Dougherty said. “I think everyone was his friend. He would just find someone and talk to you and it was always an interesting conversation, and he was just a really nice, nice person.”

His death came as a shock to friends, family and colleagues. Williams collapsed while operating a snow-blowing machine in the 1800 block of Collingwood Road in Fairfax County on February 13. Taken to Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, he was pronounced dead.

Dougherty said the loss has not completely sunk in yet.

“It’s still kind of hard to process it, that it has actually happened,” she said.

As for Knetemann, he’s just going to miss Williams.

“He’s leaving a huge void,” Knetemann said. “… Charismatic people like that make a difference.”

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