Williams was born in 1926 in Asanol, Bengal, India where his parents ran a missionary school during that last years of the British Raj. When World War II broke out, Williams’ and his family moved back to the United States where he studied at Cornell College in Iowa, but was soon called to service for the U.S. military. Williams’ philosophy had, from childhood, been profoundly influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Ghandi, so he became a conscientious objector and spent several years in alternative war service. Upon his release, Gerry moved to New Hampshire to immerse himself in the thriving local pottery and ceramics scene. He built a house and studio in Dumbarton, New Hampshire with his wife, Julie Williams, where he ran a self-sufficient studio and later founded The Studio Potter magazine which became one of the most influential art magazines in America. Fifty-five years after departing for war, Cornell College awarded Williams an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree to celebrate a prolific potter who helped shape the world of studio pottery in the U.S.
He taught at Dartmouth College and Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.