Charles P. Williams grew up in Cuba, where his father was in the heavy construction business. He graduated from Yale University in 1937 and went to work for Williams Brothers Company in Tulsa. Following service in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in World War II, he returned to Williams Brothers in 1946. He became chairman in 1966, the year the name was changed to the Williams Companies. He remained Chairman until 1971, and retired in 1974.