Picture of Mrs. Williams dedicated
HELEN D. WILLIAMS
In the summer of 1990 I spent a day visiting with Helen D. Williams as I had done through the years, but this time was very special. She told me she was going to start work on a book and she wanted me to write the introduction. I thought only things she had said had stuck with me, but some things I had said had also stuck with her. On her 95th Birthday, July 17, 1990 I put a picture and article in The Columbia Daily Tribune and I guess it generated quite a few phone calls and letters. Helen D. was very taken by the amount of people that contacted her after the article appeared on her birthday. I went by and saw her a couple weeks after her birthday and then I got too busy again with my life and the next thing I knew, Mrs. Williams had died.
We are her Class and we must carry on as she would want us to do by coming together for her. She loved all of us and always said we weren't just her last class (by retiring the year we graduated), but her best class and that is quite a title to live up to. Anyway that is how she remembered us. She was one of the last high school teachers we had, and in my book, she was the best, of the best. I thought of her for a long time before I started working on this reunion. I hope you will be thinking of her on your way to this reunion, I'm sure she will be thinking about us, we are "The Class of 1963."
Charley Blackmore, HP (Class of '63)
OBITUARIES COURTESY OF " THE COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE "
Williams, 95, of Columbia died Monday Jan. 7, 1991, at Boone Hospital Center.
Go to biography
Class of 1963
Thanks, Charley Blackmore
As I was browsing the Web Site I noted a request for any “Verse Choir” stories that we might have. I also noted a reference to National Convention of Oral Reading Arts held at the University of Chicago.
That Convention was held in June of 1955. The Choir presented “Johnnie Appleseed” and Mrs. Williams asked a number of us who had graduated, but had been a two year member of the Choir, to be part of the Cast. We took two Busloads of new Juniors, Seniors and a few of us Alums. We left very early one morning, arrived at the University of Chicago, performed, and returned to Columbia very early the next morning.
“Johnnie Appleseed” was performed brilliantly as all of Mrs. Williams' productions were. As we were leaving the stage, Mrs. Williams came up to Matt Flynn and me and told us that some of the teachers were interested in some of the other poems that we performed. Matt and I had been the soloist on “The Cremation of Sam McGee” and performed it often. Matt was the most naturally funny person I have ever been around. We of course said, “Sure.”
We went to an upstairs classroom and when we walked in, the room was full. Every seat was occupied and teachers were standing along both walls and in the back. If the Fire Marshall had been there the room would have been evacuated.
Matt and I did “Sam Magee” and the teachers asked if we could do any more. We started going through most of the Poems that we had done over the previous two years. We did, “The Congo,” “Bonnie Cravat”, “Forgiven”, “High Flight”, Vespers” and finished up with “Go Down Death.”
Someone came up to Mrs. Williams and said that we had to leave if we expected to get back to Columbia at a decent time. I looked at my watch on my way down to the Bus and Matt and I had been doing poems for over an hour in that classroom and they would have kept us longer if they could.
I have always been amazed someone didn’t pick up on the idea and create a Verse Speaking Choir for their school. There were certainly enough interested people in that room in Chicago.
Robert Martin, Class of 1955
Thursday June 16, 2016