by Henry Lane Hull
Each year as the Christmas season approaches local charities remind the public of the pressing needs of those less fortunate as they ask for funds to alleviate their plight.
Here in the lower Northern Neck one of the most constant and consistent of those advocating for the needy was Yvonne Williams, who died in Georgia earlier this month. Yvonne had come here with her late husband, Dr. Richard Williams, an ophthalmologist, to conduct his medical practice in Kilmarnock, and after his retirement she devoted herself full time to working with the Interfaith Service Council.
The poor, the low-income earners, the deprived and the suffering were each and every one very real and present to Yvonne. For almost 10 years she managed the Interfaith warehouse on Harris Road, where she was tireless in working on behalf of those in need. She wanted to make a difference in their lives and in that regard she succeeded brilliantly.
She always spoke of need in the first person: “We need mattresses” or “We need kitchen furniture.” If one read her words without knowing of their origin, one would have surmised that she personally was the one in difficult straits appealing for assistance. In her humble and gentle manner she made herself one with the poor.
She lived less than two miles from the warehouse, and never hesitated to meet any donor there at any hour to receive items that she could distribute to the less fortunate. She worked closely with Jim Thompson and his faithful crew who traveled around the Northern Neck collecting pieces that could be distributed under Yvonne’s aegis, thereby making life better for the recipients.
In the fall Yvonne was particularly anxious to gather blankets to keep her clients warm during the cold months. She would drive to local post offices to put up signs asking for blankets, comforters and bedding that could keep others from being cold at night. She thought of every item that those in need could use, and she made her way patiently and humbly to fulfill their necessities, which she made her own. In expressing gratitude to her generous donors, she was profuse in letting them know how much better others’ lives would be because of their gifts.
As a couple the Williamses knew of personal suffering, having lost his daughter who was a passenger on one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center on 9-11. I often have thought that perhaps having undergone such traumatic loss in her own life, Yvonne was all the more committed to do good deeds to make the world a better place. She utterly was convinced that individuals could make a difference in easing the burdens wrought by poverty. Her own role was to lead by example and by commitment, to be cheerful at every turn and to convey with no thought of return that she gave from the heart. She loved people from all walks of life and was happy and proud to be their friend.
At an age when many folks were well into their retirement years, Yvonne was engaged in her labor of love on a daily basis, a task, indeed for her a joy, that she continued as long as her health permitted. Untold numbers of residents of the Northern Neck are enjoying a far higher standard of living because Yvonne lived among them and shared their hopes and goals for a better future. In that regard, Yvonne lived in the true Christmas spirit every day of the year.
Yvonne Kay Hynes Williams, July 4, 1936 – December 6, 2019. R.I.P.
To all the kind column readers who have made comments, written letters, sent emails and texts over the past year, my warmest appreciation. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!