Answer: Richard Norris Williams II
Richard Norris Williams II, who often went by "R. Norris" or "Dick," was born January 29, 1891, in Geneva, Switzerland. He was part of the wealthy Philadelphia family that had started and run the Norris Locomotive Works. In 1912, Williams and his father were returning to Philadelphia, and they booked passage on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic. Williams survived; his father did not. Williams’ legs had suffered from hours in freezing water and doctors suggested amputation. Williams, who had won several tennis championships in Switzerland, instead constantly walked the decks of the RMS Carpathia to restore his circulation.
Williams won the U. S. Men’s Singles Championship in 1914 and 1916 while he was a student at Harvard. At that time, the U.S. tennis championships were amateur competitions. They did not become “open” events with professional participants until 1968. In other years Williams won the doubles and/or mixed doubles events. He was a men’s doubles champion at Wimbledon in 1920 and an Olympic gold medal winner in 1924. He played on seven U.S. Davis Cup teams.
In 1937, Williams joined the Board of Councilors at HSP. In 1943, with HSP facing a leadership challenge due to service in World War II, he became “acting director.” At that time, the director was the chief administrative position, reasonably equivalent to today’s president. He served HSP as director until his retirement in 1965.
HSP has a number of collections that highlight tennis, including the Historical Society of Pennsylvania collection on tennis (#D0100) and the Marilyn and Edward Fernberger collection on Philadelphia professional and amateur tennis tournaments (#3265). The Philadelphia Record photograph collection also contains a number of depictions of local and national tennis players.