But he continued marching. In 1987 he marched with 75 others into all-white Forsyth County, Ga., and was pelted by rocks and bottles hurled by members of the Ku Klux Klan. The next week, 20,000 marchers came.
Emory historian Garrow, who wrote "Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference," said: "Over the last 20 years here, in Atlanta, Mr. Williams, maybe more than any other of Dr. King's former associates, has really tried to stay true to Dr. King's legacy."
Williams' wife, Juanita, whom he married in the early 1950s, died last August of anemia at age 75. A son, Hosea Williams II, was 43 when he died of a rare form of leukemia in 1998.
Next week, Williams would have celebrated the 30th anniversary of his Hosea's Feed the Hungry and Homeless, a program that started by feeding 200 homeless men on Thanksgiving Day and was feeding about 35,000 by last year.
In 1999, struggling through cancer treatment, he was unable to attend the meals, said Georgia state Rep. Tyrone Brooks, a lifelong friend.
"It was the first time he missed it in 30 years," Brooks said. Noting that the program has faced financial difficulties in recent years but is now being run by Williams' daughter, Elizabeth Williams Omilami, Brooks said: "The program will go on. It will not die."
Services will be held Tuesday morning at King's Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.