Growing up in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Frank Williams saw the city develop into a center of iron and steel production, and, in his short career, he contributed to the growth of the industry. After finishing high school, Williams worked for two years in the laboratories of Johnstown’s Cambria Iron Works, before attending Lehigh to earn degrees in mining and metallurgy. He served as class secretary in his senior year, played varsity football, was a brother of Theta Delta Chi, and a member of Tau Beta Phi engineering honor society.
Williams’ first job was with the Edgar Thomson Steel Company in Pittsburgh and, after that, the Michigan Steel Company in Detroit. He left Detroit to study new methods of steel production in Europe. When he returned to the United States, he remodeled the plant of the Horseshoe Company in Chicago, and later took charge of the East Chicago foundry. While in Chicago, his health began to fail, and he began to spend his winters in warmer climates.
Williams returned to Pennsylvania to manage the Fayette Manufacturing Company, and later became its president and general manager. He also organized the Basic Brick Company in Johnstown, and managed the company until poor health forced him to resign. After his death in 1900, a bequest to Lehigh established the Frank Williams Loan Fund, the income from which is loaned to eligible students.