Evelyn Williams, revered educator, dies at 98
Published: February 9, 2013
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Revered and beloved educator Evelyn Williams died Feb. 2 at age 98.
Williams was born on St. Croix Dec. 15, 1914, when the territory was still the Danish West Indies.
She loved learning and took courses at Inter-American University and Hampton University before earning her bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1961 and her master's degree in supervision and administration of elementary schools in 1964 from New York University.
She began teaching much earlier, however, starting her career in 1931 at the Diamond Rural Elementary School - the same school she attended as a child. During her career, she taught or served as principal of many St. Croix schools.
Williams worked in the Virgin Islands public school system for more than four decades and influenced a generation of students and colleagues.
"Mrs. Williams was born before the Virgin Islands was part of America, and her career was dedicated to uplifting the territory through education and passing on the highest values of our people. Her accomplishments were many, and her legacy can be measured by the thousands of men and women she educated over her long career. Some were her students; others were notable educators, who learned their craft under her leadership in the Department of Education and went on to serve this territory so well themselves," Gov. John deJongh Jr. said in a statement.
After retiring as principal of Charles H. Emanuel Elementary School in 1972, Williams served for 10 years as a member of the Virgin Islands Government Employees Services Commission.
In addition to her education career, she was an active participant in many civic and religious groups, including the St. Dunstan's Episcopal School board; the Women's Organization for the Holy Cross Episcopal Church; the board of directors of the V.I. Council of the Arts; and the Frederiksted Business and Professional Women's Association.
Williams also was the first female senior warden of the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands.
When she retired from the V.I. Education Department in 1972, the 10th Legislature recognized Williams' achievements in a resolution.
In 1976, the 11th Legislature named Estate Mount Pleasant Elementary School in her honor.
Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone said the territory has lost a giant in the field of education.
"While she has left us in the flesh and her passing bereaves us immensely, the consolation is that she leaves behind thousands of contributing members of society who she positively guided during their youth," Malone said.
Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen said Williams was great friends with her grandmother and fellow educator Elena Christian.
Christensen called Williams one of the territory's treasured matriarchs and icons.
"Mrs. Williams belonged to a generation of educators who exemplified a passion for the teaching profession and pure devotion to their pupils," she said.
"Mrs. Williams will always be remembered for her warmth, humility and grace," Christensen said.
Williams is survived by her children, Janet Lake and Douglas Williams, and countless other family and friends.
Funeral services are Monday at Holy Cross Episcopal Church. The viewing is at 9 a.m. followed by the service at 10 a.m. She will be laid to rest in Kingshill Cemetery.
The family has asked that donations in her honor be made to the V.I. Cardiac Center Foundation.
- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email email@example.com.