Branson duck boat driver worked at RIPTA

Robert Williams (Submitted photo)

The driver of a duck boat that capsized and sank in Branson, Missouri, formerly lived in East Providence.

Robert Williams worked at the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority until his retirement about a decade ago, his family told NBC 10 News Friday.

RIPTA Union President Thomas Cute says Williams was a foreman of the building and grounds division.

He was driving the duck boat that capsized, and was among the 17 people killed in the accident.

"Rob was a wonderful guy," said John Dovale, who used to live next to Williams in East Providence.

Those who knew Williams say he was a good husband and a family man with four kids.

"He had a heart of gold," Dovale said. "He was a wonderful man."

His sister told NBC 10 by phone Friday that her brother was loving and kind.

They say he was an Associate Pastor at the King's Cathedral in Providence.

He worked as a foreman of the building and grounds division at RIPTA for many years, then retired to Branson where he started driving duck boats.

His sister says people would request him to be their driver because of his sense of humor and passion for work.

But on Thursday, his career came to a tragic end when his boat was caught in a severe storm on Table Rock Lake with more than two dozen passengers on board.

At first, Williams was among the missing.

His family then learned the sad news that he was among the 17 who lost their lives.

"I'm feeling for the families and I think his family probably feels the same way," Dovale said.

His sister hoping Williams can be remembered as a man who was loved by everyone.

Neighbors agree.

"I just want to wish him all the peace that he needs," Dovale said.

Family members say Williams was in his early 70's.

He also graduated from New England Tech.

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