Ms. Williams, 92, of West Orange County, died Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018.
Blanche Marie Williams, 92, left peacefully to be with the Lord on Jan. 25, 2018. Marie, as she was known by most, was born in Gardner, West Virginia, and in 1958 moved to what was then the “pristine” shores of Lake Apopka with her second husband, Haven (deceased).
Although Florida became her home, she loved going back to visit the mountains of West Virginia whenever possible.
She was the eldest girl in a family of 10 siblings and began working at age 14 for Lisagor’s Department Store in Princeton, West Virginia, as a counter hostess. She had an eye for fashion and a natural way with people that led to her becoming a clothes buyer. This gave her the opportunity to travel to fashion houses and clothing shows in places such as New York and St. Louis.
Marie was an avid reader and believed education was a gift to be savored. While raising her two girls, she completed her GED through Mid-Florida Tech and started an associate’s degree at Valencia Community College. The majority of her career was spent in various clerical roles for Florida Gas Co. and Florida Power Corporation (now Duke Energy), where she developed a wanderlust for travel that took her to all but two of the seven continents.
Her real passions though, were her faith, her family and her community. She loved people, particularly the elderly, and she dedicated the majority of her retirement years as an elder advocate through AARP. Holding various leadership roles with AARP at both the district and state levels, she traveled throughout the state of Florida and made regular trips to Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., to help craft elder-care legislation.
Her advocacy and passion for her beloved West Orange County led her to the West Orange Chamber of Commerce, where she became a Lifetime Ambassador. She was also an active member of VFW Post No. 2093. She loved gardening, cooking, playing washboard in the AARP band, bowling (Orlando Champion for Mixed Doubles in 1963 and 1964) and college football — especially the UCF Knights (gooooo KNIGHTS!).
Widowed twice and a cancer survivor, her faith in the Lord knew few, if any, limits. She was a lifelong Methodist who understood fully her calling to reflect the light of Christ into the world.
She loved volunteering over the years at Pine Hills UMC in various roles as youth chaperone, choir member and Vacation Bible School assistant. As the effects of aging made it difficult for her to attend worship services, she transferred her membership to St. Luke’s UMC, where she volunteered by writing greeting cards to those who were shut-ins or going through illness.
She would often say, “They may not know me, but it doesn’t matter. God knows them, and I can pray for them.”
She is preceded in death by husbands William Wesley Smith and Haven J. Williams and is survived by: daughters, Karen Wesley Williams and Alice Marie Williams, along with her adopted daughters, Pammie O’Bannon and Debby Zutter; sister, Lillie Mae White (West Virginia); brother, James H. Johnson (Tennessee); and dozens of nieces, nephews and “greats” — all of whom she dearly loved.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 17, at St. Luke’s UMC, 4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Road, Orlando, FL 32819. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to St. Luke’s UMC designating either Shepherd’s Hope or the East Winter Garden (EWG) Initiative.