The congregation of First Baptist Church of Jourdanton hosted a reception for beloved retired teacher, Mary Isabella Williams, on Saturday, Feb. 9, at their Fellowship Hall.
Mrs. Williams will celebrate her 100th birthday on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, Feb. 14.
She was born on Feb. 14, 1919, in Rockport. Her parents William J. Miles and Beulah Martin Miles moved to Jourdanton in 1921. Her father was a rancher and her mother, a homemaker.
“My parents were industrious, civicminded, church-going and loving parents,” said Mary.
She was an only child, but had plenty of first-cousins to past the time with, from Pleasanton, Jourdanton, Tilden and Lytle.
She graduated from Jourdanton High School in 1936 and loved school and all her teachers. Her favorite subject in elementary was Reading, while English was her favorite in high school. She later graduated from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton in 1940.
Her parents also taught her honesty and to keep a good, happy outlook on life.
In 1943, she married Edgar Leroy Williams.
“I am very proud of this, I was Chief Clerk of the Rationing Board during World War II and then after that I taught school.”
Mrs. Williams taught 6th-8th grades at Jourdanton ISD for 31 years. She loved seeing the children learn and enjoyed helping them grow.
“They had no lunchrooms when I started, so we would stack the lunches on the stove. By noon there was the pleasant odor of all that sausage and homemade bread.”
Her husband was a native of Poteet and the Atascosa County District Clerk. He served in that role for 36 years, until he retired.
Mary’s office was right across his and he would invite her to lunch. They married at a home-wedding during World War II. They bought their home in 1943 and Mary said it was one of the first homes built in Jourdanton.
They were married for 47 years, until his passing.
Throughout her 100 years, the historical time period that stands out the most is World War II.
“Everybody had to ration and was on the alert. We sacrificed a lot.”
Mrs. Williams also loves to travel. Her trips have taken her to Europe, two weeks in the Orient, Cana- da, Mexico and her favorite destination- Hawaii.
In the late 1970s- early 1980s, Mrs. Williams had lunch with Princess Di’s brother, while in England.
“I was with this group and we are supposed to be cousins to the Queen. He invited us all to lunch and he sat at the head of the table. He was a very modest and quiet, young man. That was a highlight.”
Some of the civic organizations Mary has served in over the years include the PTA, Order of the Eastern Star, DAR and Magna Carta.
She credits her longevity to always looking forward and staying positive, regardless of what is going on in your life. It may also be in her genes, as her grandfather who served in the Civil War lived to be 99.
Mary’s caretaker and friend, Rosie Martinez, said, “Can you believe she was by herself, up to four years ago. All these years she cared for herself.”
The two still take trips to San Antonio to have lunch and shop, as Mary loves going to Macy’s and Kendra Scott. Locally, she enjoys Cafe Chris in Pleasanton, often ordering the daily special or The Combo. On Tuesdays, Beauty Boutique is Mary’s place to be to get her hair done.
Mary also served as the church pianist for several years. After her husband’s passing, playing the piano comforted her.
Along with traveling, she likes reading.
Among her relatives at her birthday party this past Saturday were her cousin John Martin and his sons from San Diego, and her niece Paula Conn and her husband of Atascosa County.
She also celebrated her birthday at Bohanan’s Prime Steaks and Seafood in San Antonio, with a special school-themed cake. Owner Mark Bohanan is one of her former students.
Rosie said that everywhere they go, her students still remember her. She describes her as an inspiration.
“There is nothing she doesn’t want to try. Nothing stops her.”