He had worked Tuesday before going into Montgomery Regional Hospital for the surgery where he unexpectedly died, according to WVTF Program Director Rick Mattioni. Williamson was 62.
He is survived by daughters Dierdra Jain, who lives in Northern Virginia and Emily Williamson, a Floyd artist. Williamson lived in Floyd and often talked about his commute to work and about enjoying nature as the sun rose in the morning.
Williamson, a native of Texas, taught an entire generation about as much about classical music as did Disney and Warner Brothers studios in the 1930s and 1940s when cartoons introduced children to the genre. His morning classics show on the station had a huge following of older listeners who form the backbone of WVTF's financial support.
His intelligent and learned backgrounding of composers and their music was like a college education in music for his listeners. Coupled with Steve Brown's show, the station's classical music format has made it one of the most popular and stable public radio stations in the country.
A long-time friend of Williamson’s, Brown will host a musical tribute to Seth from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, featuring the music that Williamson loved.
Both Williamson and Brown have been noted as accomplished musicians for years and Seth once told me both of them were All-State Band in high school (explaining their penchant for marching music). Williamson played a number of instruments well, including trumpet and euphonium and Mattioni says he was an accomplished banjo player, as well..
Williamson's musical taste ran all over the board and his popular "Backroads and Blue Highways," "Back to the Blue Ridge" and "Travelin' On" shows were noted among the musical cognoscenti as one of the most appealing and adventurous roots music programs in the state for the time it was on. WVTF cancelled the program amid some loud protests.
He was a noted birder and an accomplished nature essayist. He reviewed the Roanoke Symphony for publications in the region for a number of years. His employment at WVTF dates to 1981 and before that he was with other stations in the state, including WROV in Roanoke. His classical show debuted in 1983.