RICHMOND—Elizabeth “Beth” James Walton Williams, 94, died peacefully on November 28 at Westminster Canterbury in Richmond, surrounded by family and the good wishes of many friends. She will be remembered for her vibrant, joyful embrace of life, her rich sense of humor and her deep love of family.
A passionate lover of the arts, Beth channeled her creative energies into the wonderful paintings she gifted to family and friends, as well as into her teaching of studio art and art history at both the National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C., and at St Margaret’s School in Tappahannock. She was also a talented seamstress who made her own garments in addition to beautiful smocked outfits for her granddaughters. Her dearest effort was designing and sewing her daughter’s wedding dress and veil.
Beth graduated from Marjorie Webster Junior College, the University of Maryland and American University where she received her master’s in art history. During her years in Chevy Chase, Md., Beth was president of the Junior Board of the Goodwill Industries of Washington, D.C., and a member of the Junior League.
Beth maintained strong connections to her southern family and coordinated famous reunions at the Continental and Quality Inn Capitol Hill Hotels. She and her sister Angela cultivated strong bonds among their children, with many trips, holidays and birthdays spent together. Those connections enrich all of them to this day.
Beth cherished the Northern Neck where she and her children often visited her beloved cousin Libba Irby and family at Bon Harbors. She moved to the area in 1979 and in 1986 met the love of her life, Virgil “Bill” Eugene Williams. Totally devoted to each other, they shared many travel adventures, volunteer work and a rich circle of friends.
Known as “Ennie” to her grandchildren, Beth attended every recital, sports event and play she could. She and Bill hosted many sleepovers filled with boat rides, art projects and games. She instilled a love of adventure in her children and grandchildren, and was still traveling overseas at age 84 when she visited her granddaughter Elizabeth in Spain.
Deeply engaged with history and genealogy, Beth was a Dame of Distinction of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of Virginia, and a member of the Colonial Dames of America, as well as the Jamestown Society. She was a volunteer at Historic Christ Church in Weems, where she was made an honorary member of the St. Andrew’s Society in recognition for initiating the church’s “Kirking of the Tartans” service. She was also a member of Grace Episcopal Church in Kilmarnock and St. James’s Episcopal Church in Richmond. The last 15 years of Beth’s life were spent at Westminster Canterbury in Richmond, where she offered a popular art history lecture series.
Beth is predeceased by her beloved husband, Bill; her parents, Elizabeth Lash James Walton and Marvin Irby Walton; and by her brother, Marvin Irby Walton Jr.
She is survived by her daughter, Elizabeth Spencer James Pardoe Ballou and her husband, Eric Edward Ballou; her son, Prescott Bruce Pardoe; her grandchildren, Elizabeth Prescott Ballou, Clara Stewart Ballou and Samuel Hobson Ballou; her sister, Angela Walton Barksdale; her nieces and nephews, Muffie Newell, Lash Barksdale, Rives Barksdale, Jeff Barksdale, Zach Walton, and their families; and her stepchildren, Bonnie Bonnell, Deborah Taylor, Daniel Williams, Randolph Williams, Patricia Smith, and their families.
The family offers heartfelt thanks for the compassionate care provided by the staff of Westminster Canterbury’s Mary Morton Parsons Health Center, as well as by her crew of devoted sitters, especially Jackie Brown.
A memorial service will be held at Westminster Canterbury, Richmond, at 2 p.m. Thursday, December 7. A burial will be held at Historic Christ Church in Weems at noon Friday, December 8. Both services will be followed by receptions.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent in Mrs. Williams’ name to the Fellowship Fund at Westminster Canterbury, Richmond.