Richard F. "Ric" Williamson was the chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission who pushed Gov. Rick Perry's vision of Texas toll roads into policy. He died of a heart attack in December, 2007, at the age of 55.
An Abilene native, Williamson founded a natural gas production company in Weatherford before running for the Texas House -- first as a Democrat, then as a Republican. He spent 13 years in the Legislature.
In 2001, Perry named him to the Transportation Commission; three years later he was named chairman. Williamson was Perry's point person on traffic and infrastructure, and staunchly endorsed privatizing key thoroughfares. He supported Perry's pet project, the Trans-Texas Corridor toll road.
While serving as transportation commissioner, Williamson, a heavy smoker, suffered two other heart attacks; the third was fatal.