The Life and Times of Guy S. Williams, Pipeline Welder

Pipeline WelderGuy S. Williams
Recording Secretary
Pipeliners Local Union 798


Guy S. Williams, a long time member and Recording Secretary of Pipeliners Local Union 798, tells the story of his life and times as a pipeline welder.

My life began on a hot July day in 1950, when I was born to the union of Billy Ray and Jean Williams. We lived in a small shotgun house on my Grandfather’s farm. It was a cotton and cattle farm, a place I thought was a little piece of heaven and, consequently, loved. 

My days consisted of going to school at a small country school, then coming home and going to the field to work until dark. I didn’t know we were poor because everyone had about the same thing. We, meaning my two brothers and my Mom, were always busy. 

We had a lot of cows, several hundred head, so consequently we were always either grinding feed or feeding cows. We would grind at night and feed in the morning and I would help my Mom milk two cows before school. This is to what I attribute my own strong work ethic.

pipeline welder

I never knew what my Dad did for work. I only knew he was gone a lot. As I got a little older, I discovered he worked construction. Sometime later, I found out my Dad worked on the pipeline. Each summer my Mom, brothers and I would go see Dad for a few days (big vacation). 

As I got a little older Dad would let me go to work with him. Little did I know what was in store for me. One thing I distinctly remember was that all the guys wore starched and ironed clothes, had a little jiggle in their pocket and drove nice cars. 

One day while out on the job, this stately looking gentleman wearing a pair of sunglasses and a big cowboy hat drove down the ROW. I asked my dad what he did. My dad replied that he was the big boss. I told my dad, that’s the job I want. 

The next thing I knew the boss stopped and asked me if these guys were treating me alright to which I responded “not all that good.” That man’s name was Roland Cain, General Superintendent. Mr. Cain told me to get in the truck with him and said he would treat me a little better than they had been doing. Little did I know this would be the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

When I was about thirteen or fourteen, I started bugging my dad about going to work to make some money. Well, in June of 1965, I went to work for Grayco Marine at Cameron, Louisiana, swamping on a low-boy,  a truck and trailer used to haul equipment. 

The low-boy driver’s name was Dirk and he was the tallest man I had ever seen (6’ 7”). I remember he was a hoot. I made about $2,000 that summer working 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours per day. That was the most money I had ever seen. I worked for this contractor for the next couple of summers. Some of the jobs weren’t too glamorous. but I finally got to help a welder. 

Sometime later, I was able to buy a union book out of Pipeliner’s Union 798 which sparked a fire in me that still burns today 53 years later. When I got my first check, it looked as big as the moon. I thought about all the things I could do with this money.

That day in June of 1968 I became a full-fledged pipeliner and started on a journey that continues today. A journey that has taken me to 49 states, four countries and thousands of miles.

In 53 years of working in the pipeline industry, my wife and I were able to get a little piece of the pie. I married my college sweetheart in 1973. My wife was a second grade school teacher who had never been away from home. Shortly after getting married, my wife told she just could not stay by herself, so I got busy hunting for a job and, shortly after the hunt began, it was over. I went to work for a guy building metal buildings. I worked there until the Trans Alaska Pipeline started and we made the decision for me to go to Alaska. I spent 5 years in Alaska, and this is where we finally got a foot hold.

pipeline welder

We were able to raise, educate and help two sons get a start in life. One son is the V.P. of Operations for the Sam Moon Real Estate Development Group and the other son works for Price Gregory and is a 24 year member of L.U. 798. He, like me, is an officer. 

The one thing I instilled in my sons was to give a day’s work for a day’s pay and be on time.  They have grown into fine young men. My wife of 45 plus years is now retired and travels with me; she finally realized I need constant supervision.

Without discounting the contributions my wife made to our family, our main source of income came from the pipeline trade. Pipelining has afforded my family and me the opportunity to basically  go anywhere and do most anything we want to do. In short we have led a pretty charmed life thanks to the industry.

From the life and times of Guy S. Williams, Bk # 978105

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10 thoughts on “The Life and Times of Guy S. Williams, Pipeline Welder

  1. Mr. Williams is all about what America really stands for. Work hard, get ahead, raise a family and help others. Thank you Mr. Williams for your story.

  2. You can go to an expensive college and study something like liberal arts and end up working at McDonalds for minimum wage. Or you can go to a trade school and learn welding and get a job making over $100,000 a year working for the drilling and pipeline industries.

    • That’s true… but here’s what I worry about. Long term health effects to the lungs, dysfunctional family life being away from home so much, and I worry about being around the bars and drugs that I hear about with guys on the road. Does anyone have comments or thoughts on those things? Money is good but we all know it’s not the end all be all to a happy life. If you had a teen son would you gear him to this or would you rather them get an Ag degree or would you encourage welding but also get the 4 year degree so when you hit your late 30 or 40’s you have more options? If you have a daughter would you encourage her to marry a welder who is on the road all the time? Honest questions just looking for thoughts. Thanks

      • I’ve been a helper, then welder in the pipeline and construction business since July of 1979. And the 80s and most of the 90s were hard times for being a welder, not the least bit glamorous. My son was born in 82, and I successfully steered him away from this business. Even though he took a semester off from college to work on pipelines. He went back and finished college, then grad school aquiring a phd. He is now a college professor and administrator. Even though many times I wish he had worked with me more, I can’t say I regret steering him a different way.

      • Those concerns regarding your fears of the lifestyle of construction welders has some truth in it. I worked field construction for several years and have seen the good, bad & ugly of welders or any craft for that matter, away from home. A steady welding job close to home would be my choice!

  3. I enjoyed reading your article my grandfather Is part of the pipeline family. You may know him George “bronc” Pugh. He was the VP for Patterson and Wilder Const. CO.

    • Thank you for sharing this article. To be a rig welder is my dream however i feel a little old for that. Im not a ‘Spring chicken’ anymore I work construction. Building trades. Have a 4 yr old daughter. She brightens up my day with just her saying daddy. I’d hate to not see her grow up. I know the money is good being a pipeline welder. Would definitely go Union.

  4. I am currently running pipe in ohio. Purge food grade stainless tig. I’m 30 years old and have 3 vehicles, 4 motorcycles and a house. Welding is gold in 2020


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