North Mississippi Foot Specialists’ Dr. Craig Williams might be one of Oxford’s most interesting men.
His service in the U. S. Navy led him on a path to become the podiatric consultant to the White House, U. S. Congress, and the U. S. Supreme Court from 1999 to 2002. The end of his service brought him to Oxford, where he has spent the last decade making a difference in the lives of children and the dozens of patients he sees each day.
Nearing retirement, Williams received a phone call from an acquaintance from Jackson.
“He was looking to expand to Oxford,” Williams says. “When we first talked on the phone, he pretty much offered me the job right on the spot. I went home and told Robin, ‘I had an interesting phone call today. I got a job offer,’ and she says, ‘Really? Where?’ and I said, ‘He’s offering X,’ and she says, ‘Where?’ and I said ‘And he’s offering a car and benefits.’ We did this back and forth about three more times, and she says, ‘You’re avoiding telling me where this is.’”
After visiting Mississippi, Robin was sold on the idea. They bought a home in Water Valley with 20 acres of land and have called North Mississippi home for over a decade. Williams decided to open his own clinic shortly after moving, and North Mississippi Foot Specialists has been treating patients for 11 years, many of whom are from well outside the Oxford area.
“Just this week, I saw a patient from Greenville, another from Grenada, and one from Columbus,” says Williams. “There are very few podiatrists in northern Mississippi.”
A House of Many Feet
Williams’s Water Valley home is never dull. He and his wife Robin now have nine children—and typically an exchange student or two. Four of their children are biological, and five are adopted.
After the birth of their fourth child, the couple decided not to have a fifth biologically They decided to look into adoption, and contacted the Department of Human Services (DHS) to become foster parents. After a year of waiting, they received their first call. Two boys, ages two and three, needed a home. The boys lived with them for 15 months, and right before the adoption process was to be finalized, the boys were given back to their mother.
A month later, another phone call from DHS came. A 19-day-old baby boy was in the hospital for dehydration and a bladder infection, and he desperately needed a home. With the pain of giving their boys back to their birth mother still raw, they were unsure about taking in a newborn. Fate decided to step in.
“The boy’s name was Austin, and I went to the University of Texas,” Williams says. “We went to visit him that night, and the next day when he was discharged, they told us we could go pick him up. Our youngest was nine or 10, and we didn’t have anything for a newborn. Robin gave me a list of things I needed to pick up from Walmart while she got the baby discharged. I met her back at the hospital and she says, ‘You’re never going to believe what his middle name is. Dale.’ My dad’s name was Dale and one of our other children’s middle names is Dale. And so we were thinking, ‘Okay, God. Are you talking to us right now?’ Fast forward about a year and a half, and we got to adopt him.”
The next four Williams children came all at once.
“We got a quarterly newsletter from Harden House, and they feature a child, usually a group of siblings, that are available for adoption,” Williams says. “By the time I got home from work, Robin had already opened the newsletter and gone through it. It was sitting on the counter, so I picked it up. Here were four African-American children—three teenagers, and one 11-year-old. It was very clear to me that we were meant to adopt these children. I didn’t say anything, and later that night Robin says, ‘Craig, I want to talk to you about something,’ and I said, ‘You want to adopt the children in that newsletter,’ and she says, ‘I felt like God told me we were supposed to when I read it today,’ and I said, ‘Well, he told me the same thing.’ So the next day we told our social worker we wanted to adopt the boys, and they wouldn’t allow it since we already had five children. God told me we were supposed to adopt those kids, so I got on the phone and called our congressman. We had a meeting with him, and while he was listening to our story, he picked up the phone and called DHS. An hour and 10 minutes later, DHS called and asked if we wanted to meet the children.”
Bunking With Bevo
Williams might have a big family, but there is still room at home for VIP livestock. The University of Texas graduate was asked to keep Bevo when the school’s football team came to Oxford in 2012. Williams had a special area sectioned off in his yard to house Bevo and tried to keep the mascot’s whereabouts secret.
“A Grenada paper called earlier that week and asked if they could come take pictures,” Williams says. “I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. Bevo?’ It was funny. [The University of Texas staff] dropped him off at our house, left us hay and feed, took off to a rented house in Wellsgate and just left him with us for the weekend. They picked him up a few hours before the game, dropped him back off around 1:00 in the morning, and showed back up around 1:00 Sunday afternoon and loaded him up. I was so worried about him getting loose, and then I’d be the guy who lost Bevo.”
North Mississippi Foot Specialists offers treatment for foot ailments as well as a wide variety of products for maintaining healthy feet. The clinic is located at 1735 University Avenue. To make an appointment call (662)-513-6600.
HT.com staff report
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