Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018
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Kay S. Williams, 1941-2012: Ex-school board member elected to national post


TEMPERANCE -- Kay S. Williams, 71, who served 16 years on the Bedford board of education, several as president, and who was president of the association that represents school board members across Michigan, died Saturday in Toledo Hospital.

She was hospitalized after a nighttime fall April 18 at home as she rose to check on her stepmother-in-law, Norma Williams. She may have had a stroke, her daughter Chris Andrews said. Mrs. Williams and her husband, Tom, cared in their home for his stepmother and, until his death in November, 2011, his father, Richard. Earlier, they'd brought into the family home her mother, Frances McGraw, who died at 100.

"My mom was full of mercy and grace," daughter Chris said. "That was her true calling in life, and she fulfilled it well."

Mrs. Williams, a mother of 10, was active in scouting and parent-teacher groups when she was elected in June, 1983, to the Bedford school board.

"She was very much of a leader," said Bill Henning, a former board member. "She became president of the board 10 minutes after she joined the board."

She and the board helped turn around the district's financial plight -- voters had defeated five straight tax measures -- and hired a new superintendent, Herbert Moyer, Mr. Henning said.

"She was very definitely a person of strength and of strong will," Mr. Henning said, "an individual of great loyalty, very much committed to her family, to Bedford Public Schools, and to the community."

In September, 1986, she was elected to the 21-member board of the Michigan Association of School Boards. She was believed to be the first Monroe County resident to serve on that board, of which she became president in 1993. Her duties took her across the country to attend meetings about state legislatures and property taxes, labor relations, and teacher training. She maintained her Bedford school board duties, adding up to a weekly volunteer work and travel schedule of more than 40 hours.

Her family made that possible, she said. "I couldn't have done it without their support," Mrs. Williams told The Blade in 1993.

Mrs. Williams was a former officer of the National School Boards Association.

She was again president of the Bedford board in 1999 when she was defeated at the polls. "She was saddened. It had become so much a part of her life," daughter Chris said. But with children getting married and grandchildren arriving, she said, "that void was quickly filled."

Mrs. Williams also had been regent of Adrian's Lucy Wolcott Barnum chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She helped start a Children of the American Revolution group and made sure her children and grandchildren knew about the nation's founders.

She and her husband were active in the Lewis & Clark Foundation.

She was born in Anderson, Ind. She and her husband were sweethearts at Anderson High School. She received a teaching degree from Ball State University and taught kindergarten for a year in Newark, Ohio, while her husband was a mechanical engineer at what was then Owens-Corning Fiberglas. The family lived briefly in New Jersey before they settled in Bedford Township.

She was a former member of Hampton Park Christian Church, Toledo.

Surviving are her husband, Tom, who she married June 16, 1963; sons, David, Mike, Rob, Dan, and Greg Williams; daughters, Chris Andrews, Suzi Barr, Buffy Ruddy, Kathy Moran, and Jenny Williams, and 28 grandchildren.

Visitation is to be today from 3 to 8 p.m. in the Michael W. Pawlak Funeral Home, Temperance, and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Needham-Storey-Wampner Funeral Service, Rybolt Chapel, Swayzee, Ind. A graveside service is to follow in Greenlawn Cemetery, Greentown, Ind.

She was a survivor of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and the family suggests tributes to the 2012 Bedford Township Relay for Life in support of the Williams Warriors team.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.

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