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Robert 'Uncle Bunky' Williams

A Local Living Legend Reflects on His Storied Career

"What for the head?" Uncle Bunky would ask the 9-year-old on his WCBI-TV-4 show “'Funtime With Uncle Bunky” back in the day. He was obviously drawing his now-legendary, famous funny cartoon animals that he was so good at.

“What for the head?” Uncle Bunky would ask the 9-year-old on his WCBI-TV-4 show “’Funtime With Uncle Bunky” back in the day. He was obviously drawing his now-legendary, famous funny cartoon animals that he was so good at.

Robert “Uncle Bunky” Williams touched many lives during his Funtime days, as well as his 28 years with the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Department as an investigator until his retirement on Dec. 31, 2004. In fact, he still gets messages from those he helped as an investigator, or from kids who appeared on his show through a Facebook page set up in his honor (on Facebook, enter Fun Time With Uncle Bunky in the search box. RW).
Bunky, who will turn 80 years old this August, is still active. He spends his days enjoying his two favorite pasttimes: drawing cartoons and playing golf. “I’m not any good at golf, but I’m having a blast playing it” he told me in an interview Monday evening in his home. He said his two golfing partners, Dean Green and John Paul Hollis, help him out at the golf course. Bunky and his wife of 58 years, Joyce, both suffer from Parkinson’s disease. He said that it causes him to fall from time to time. While playing golf recently, he fell and skinned his eye. Green and Hollis both were concerned about their longtime friend. He chuckled that after that incident, John Paul wanted to tee the golf ball for him. He quipped that Hollis had an ulterior motive in helping him tee the ball. “He just wanted to speed the game up, is all!”
Bunky spent four years in the Air Force (He said he was drafted and they wanted to send him to Korea. He quickly opted for the Air Force instead. RW). While in the Air Force, Bunky was a medic, drawing blood and helping perform autopsies. After his military service, he returned to Columbus to attend college (at Ole Miss, then Miss State. RW). He revealed that he never had any formal training or schooling in Art. His ability to draw came natural. “God had a plan for me,” said Bunky . “I really believe that.”
He got the call for “Funtime” in 1958. He said at the beginning, it was “Uncle Bunky & Cousin Ed” (Cousin Ed turned out to be Ed Prescott, former Lowndes County judge and three-term sheriff). “It was Uncle Bunky and Cousin Ed at first. That’ll blow his britches off (Ed Prescott) when you tell him that,” Bunky chuckled. He said that Prescott then left his show and joined the Carmel Taylor show (also on WCBI-4) as a clown. “He had his face painted and had the cigar and everything.”
On “Funtime With Uncle Bunky” Williams said he did the show for more than 20 years, five days a week, with 12 kids a day in the audience. He said he knows of at least five current Columbus doctors who appeared on the show back in those days. Circuit Judge Jim Kitchens, District Attorney Forrest Allgood and Lowndes County SO Investigator Captain Joe Young also appeared on his show as kids among many, many others. “Every kid that appeared on that show left there with a teddy bear and a Bible,” Bunky said proudly.

Bunky's rendering of the SEC football team mascots is a first-see. He added the two new SEC members to the drawing (Texas A&M & Missouri). This will be the first time this drawing has been seen by the public. Bunky pointed out that the SEC now has three Tigers (Auburn, LSU and Missouri).

When Louis Harper was elected Lowndes County sheriff in 1976, he brought Bunky in as an investigator because of his uncanny ability to draw. (He would draw crime-scene reenactments or drawings of potential suspects to be used during court trials, etc). Harper originally brought Bunky in to work as a youth officer. Bunky said he ended up in narcotics. Bunky continued on at the sheriff’s department through Ed Prescott’s 12-year run as well (1988-2000). When Butch Howard was elected sheriff in 2000, he had Bunky work closely with the youth again (He said that Howard would go to programs at schools with him when Howard was Chief Deputy under Prescott. – RW).
He recalled some heart-breaking, sad times as an investigator, most involving the abuse of children. He was once called out at 2 a.m. in the morning to the hospital. A 2-year-old child had apparently been placed in hot water (by his mother) and received burns to his body. Another child had to live in a dog house till the child’s parents got home from work. “It was these types of cases that I realized that God had a plan for me in giving me the ability to draw,” said Bunky…tears beginning to show in his eyes.
In dealing with Parkinson’s disease, Bunky is keeping a positive attitude (as is his wife, Joyce. – RW), and a sense of humor. Speaking about the disease, Bunky quipped, “Joyce and I are gonna have matching wheel chairs.”
We, at The Packet, are honored to present Bunky’s cartoons in the coming issues.
Uncle Bunky, born and raised in Columbus, is a real treasure for our area. The lives he has touched and helped shape are endless, but can be seen in the measure of those he has been associated with over the years. His storied career is a living testament for that plan he says that God has for us.

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22 comments

  1. Jim Phillips

    I remember watching the Uncle Bunkey show when I was young. This was back when we only had one or two stations and everything was in black & white. Thanks to you for the memories.
    Jim Phillips

  2. Jenifer Watkins

    I remember Uncle Bunky coming to the school drawing when I was a kid. He truely is a very special man.

  3. Fred

    I always wanted to be on that show when I was a kid. I was very envious when some of the girls from my school were on there.
    They showed Sinbad the Sailor and Ruff and Reddy cartoons (which I’ve never seen anywhere else).

  4. MoralActivist

    Yeah, those were the “good ole days”. But we can’t go back, we’re moving “FORWARD”. Bare foot summers growing up on a dirt road, WCBI, only channel on the TV! Fire-flies, insects, reptiles and fishing were sources of entertainment. Baseball, bicycles, bubble gum and snow cones in Propst Park!

  5. JohnnyPhillipMorris

    People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors …~Edmund Burke

    And the Sons of Nippon still yearn for their TRUE national flag taken from them by General McArthur and his Imperial Conquistadores in 1945.

  6. MoralActivist

    If we had a General McArthur or Patton today, they’re would be some Arabs and Afghans yearning for sympathy rather than threatening terrorism.

    • MoralActivist

      Sorry fella, you don’t know what you’re talking about or are you lonesome and want someone to have a confrontation with?

  7. JohnnyPhillipMorris

    I do derive some pleasure in to confronting your moral hypocrisy and ignorance of world affairs and “busting” your baloons. You moving “forward?” What a laugh!

    • MoralActivist

      Undoubtedly you can’t comprehend what you read and you don’t know how to communicate with someone! First of all, the comment about moving “FORWARD” was meant as sarcasm (try looking it up in the dictionary). I’ve seen your other post on this site and can tell you’re lacking the significant comprehension skill’s you should’ve acquired by the third grade and must not be getting any or enough attention. Additionally, if you want to correspond with someone you’re supposed to reply to his or hers comment before starting a new one (notice the Reply icon in the upper right corner of this post). I hope you didn’t graduate from any school in Columbus, because you’re an embarrassment to some of the fine teachers who instruct students in the CMSD. So who’s laughing now Clem? (I’m rollin’ on the floor laughin’ at your ignorance, along with the other readers who no doubt believe “I Just Busted Your Bubble, Pow!”.)

      • JohnnyPhillipMorris

        I have you know, sir, that I “aced” Sarcasm 101 at Cow College U. years ago, and I still fail to see any “sarcasm” in your post. Was the clue the upper case “Forward?” I grew up during the Ed Sullivan days when some of the greatest purveyors of comedy and sarcasm appeared on his show:Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman, Jackie Mason, Myron Cohen, Shecky Green, Jackie Vernon(my favorite), etal. And most memorable was the character on the old Jack Benny Show, Frank Nelson. An essential part of sarcasm is in the delivery…the rolling of the eyes, the smirk and the hand movements.
        But sarcasm in written form is more difficult to convey. For example:I read Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a youngster, and I never knew that it was intended as satire on the “peculiar institution of slavery,” that we are told that it is today. I never had a clue.

        But his most famous satirical work is The War Prayer. I thought of this war prayer when I read your comments on suggesting that inflicting the scorched earth/take no prisoners war policies of McArthur and Patton would make the hapless folks in Afghanistan, North Africa and the Middle East “yearn for sympathy, rather than threatening terrorism(sic).”

        The converse is true.

        Mark Twain’s The War Prayer

        http://warprayer.org/

      • JohnnyPhillipMorris

        I’m beginning to get it now. The “MoralActivist” moniker is meant to be part of that suttle sarcasm that went right over my head.

        I’m not alone, though;I see that readers of your posts over at the Birney’s place are having difficulty with “comprehending” your posts.

        • MoralActivist

          Thanks Clem, I’m glad you’re doing a scouting report and I’ve captured a loyal follower. You still need to re-enroll in the Cow-U, ’cause all they did was take your money and gave you a cow dung degree that can’t be used for anything except starting a fire in your wood burning stove. Maybe they can perform a miracle by teaching an old dog some new tricks. Additionally, I already knew you weren’t alone, ’cause there’s others like you prodding me with even lesser skills in your rusty old tool box parked outside your moldy old trailer house at the Molessten Inn Trailer Park on Lehmberg Road. And for christ sake is there anything you can do to get your wife from snoring so loud, it’s keepin’ me up at night. And by the way, your boy sure did drink a lot of water last night! (you forgot a space after the semi colon, Pow!)

          • JohnnyPhillipMorris

            Right back at you.

            It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.~Samuel Clemens

          • JohnnyPhillipMorris

            A History major with a minor in English, I predict.
            You’re spending way too much time down on Rue Pig Alley with that “silver spoon” up your nose.

  8. JohnnyPhillipMorris

    That would be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Who can forget Tom Sawyer.

  9. Tina Taylor

    I am trying to find someone that might have a tape/recording of one or more of the Carmol Taylor shows from back then. My dad played that show for 13 or 14 years and we don’t have any tapes of it. Would be so thankful to find someone who has any info. Thanks! 205-495-1981.

  10. Tina Taylor

    I would be happy to find pictures also. Surely someone snapped a picture of them at some point and time.

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