Teresa and Bob Williamson enjoy the good life at their new home, Honey Lake Plantation, located west of Greenville.
By Jacob Bembry
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Bob Williamson can sit in his library and look out at part of the vast domain that belongs to him. On one side, he can see beautiful trees and hills. If he glances out of his office to the windows on the other side, he can see Honey Lake.
Although things of beauty surround him, there is nothing pretentious about the man or the things in his home. Things that may cost much surround him but this writer’s eyes are drawn to a football signed by Mark Richt and a guitar, which sits on a stand in a corner. To the writer, the football and guitar seem to fit the easygoing attitude of the man he is interviewing.
Bob Williamson has not always had it so good. He grew up in a family, where his father served in the military and was always having to move. Even after his father left the armed services, the family continued to move. He had gone to 19 different schools. Bob became an alcoholic by the time he was 15. At 19, he became an intravenous drug user and was walking the streets of New Orleans, La., packing a .357 Magnum. He used methamphetamines to get high and heroin to bring him back down. He was booted out of the Army after being diagnosed as a sociopath. He became a hardened violent criminal, committing armed robberies and ending up spending time in Parish Prison in Louisiana. He recounts the tales of his violent life in his autobiography, Miracle on Luckie Street.
How did this former drug addict and alcoholic kick those nasty habits and end up where he is today?
During the interview, Williamson recounts how he learned the law was after him in New Orleans, so he headed to Atlanta, Ga., in order to hide out. When he got there, the first thing he did was sell a pint of blood, because he was flat busted. He got a job cleaning bricks. One day, he borrowed a car from someone and ended up totaling it. During the long stay at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, he befriended a nurse, who would bring books to him from the library every couple of days. She would also bring him the list of the bestselling books in the world. He noticed the Bible was always at the top of the list and although he did not believe in God, he asked her to bring him a Bible.
“I began reading it,” he said. “I started with the Old Testament, but it was too boring, so I began reading the New Testament.”
When Williamson got to Philippians 4:13, he read: “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” He got angry and tossed the Bible aside.
When the nurse who had befriended him entered the room, he told her, “That thing is full of lies. God can’t do anything with me. I’m a drug addict and an alcoholic.”
“Listen here,” the nurse answered. “He is God and He can do anything.”
Eventually, Williamson surrendered his life to Christ.
“I found God was different than what I had been told,” he said. Finding Jesus to be kind and fair, Williamson decided to follow his lead.
Later, Williamson got a job in a paint factory, keeping up with labels. The job was not glamorous.
“I was stuck in a dark basement all day,” he said. “I asked them if I could paint the room.”
Working at nights and on weekends, for no pay, he painted the room white.
Following six promotions at the paint factory, Williamson decided to start his own business. His wife and his friends tried to dissuade him from doing it, but he went on anyway.
An artist, Williamson went into the airbrushing business and invented a new airbrushing tool that was recognized as the best in the world.
Williamson was about to go public and put the company he had started on the New York Stock Exchange when he had his heart ripped out. He learned that some of his employees had been stealing from him and plotting to start their own company.
Bankrupt, disheartened but undaunted, Williamson made payment arrangements with all his creditors and began paying them off. He also embarked on a career as a serial entrepreneur, founding 11 companies, which he was able to sell for millions.
Williamson sold his last business for $70 million and decided to retire, but it was too much for the man who admits he is an insomniac, sleeping only three to four hours a night. He decided to expand Honey Lake from just a private residence for him and his family into a resort area. He acquired 2,000 more acres to add to 2,700 acres he purchased from Pansy Poe, owner of Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, Ga.
Williamson said Honey Lake Plantation would officially open for business in late October or early November. He plans to add more people to the company’s payroll, including people who can clean rooms, cook and other things.
The beautiful plantation has an antebellum theme throughout and features include a conference hall, which will be built soon, horses, a smokehouse with wild game processing, a salon and spa and a wedding chapel. The wedding chapel features the stained glass windows from the old Presbyterian church in Madison. At the front of the church, behind the speaker’s rostrum is a cross in the center, with picture windows looking out on beautiful Honey Lake.
Today, Williamson is happily married and has three sons, who are all college graduates. One of his sons helps run Honey Lake with him and another is developing software with him that will help schools. The software will compare each school in the country and show what each failing school needs to do to pull up its grades.
On Nov. 4 and 5, Williamson will teach a success seminar at Honey Lake Plantation west of Greenville. He will share what he has learned in his 40 years of business. To learn more about it, go to www.seminar.williamsongroupusa.com.
Among the principles he will share during the seminar are principles he has learned since becoming a Christian.
Williamson said one thing he had learned from Philippians 4:13 was that it said. “I can do all things through Christ,” not that Christ can do it. He said we have to be willing to do our part.
“If I can do it,” Williamson said, “then I know that anyone can.”
To learn more about Williamson, you can visit his blog at www.wordstoliveby.com or www.miracleonluckiestreet.com. To learn about Honey Lake Plantation, please visit www.honeylake plantation.com.