Bettie Williams died after a lingering illness and was taken to Massachusetts for funeral services and interment following her death on June 13.
"Miss Bettie," as she was often called, was the wife of Claude Williams and was often seen with him at important public functions.
If you know Claude, as I have for over a decade, you have been blessed. And if you call him your friend, as I have for that same period, you have been honored. And you also know how important Bettie was to him both on an emotioanal and personal level as well as to the greater works he was involved with.
Bettie and Claude Williams were very active in their community from working with the Aracoma High School Historical Society to helping with the Logan Area Public Library.
Claude often spoke lovingly of his wife to friends and was always quick to credit her support, noted coworkers this week at the Logan County Courthouse where Williams took a leave of absence to be with family.
Claude thanked Bettie for her support in 2009 when he was named one of 15 mountaineers to be honored for his lifelong support of civil rights as an honoree of the 2009 Civil Rights Day awards at West Virginia State University at Institute.
Bettie and Claude were active with the Aracoma High School Historical Society; The Logan County Minority Open Forum; The Museum in the Park Board of Directors at Chief Logan Park; the local branch of the NAACP; and many other community organizations including the Easter Seal Society for Crippled Children and Adults.
Claude Williams became involved in the Civil Rights and fair labor struggles of the 1960s before returning to his home town, where he made his mark in both the Civil Rights and the local historical scene, with an emphasis on preserving the history and heritage of African-American culture in Appalachia.
Bettie was very active in the Civil Rights movement, including having the opportunity to march with Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Boston. She continued to participate in the Marches on Washington for many years. Bettie often wrote of her experiences in The Logan Banner. Although many of her articles informed and touched the hearts of many, one in particular was the article she wrote recapping her experience at the funeral services for Rosa Parks.
In Logan, Bettie was involved on the district and state Missionary Baptist Associations. At St. Phillips Missionary Baptist Church, she was very active in all the auxiliaries; serving as past president of the Ushers Board, a youth councilor, assistant to the clerk, past member of the Trustees Board, and secretary of the Mission Society. Bettie co-founded the community youth group, All God’s Children. In addition to being an usher and assistant secretary for the Guyan Valley Missionary Baptist Association, Bettie was the assistant secretary and youth director of the Annual Guyan Valley Music Convention. She also served as the vice president of the Guyan Valley Deaconess Board. Bettie often helped organize the picnics for the Sunday School Conference. She was a “jack of all trades” in the association and will be missed tremendously.
Bettie and Claude were also very active in the faith-based community and worked on many projects at local churches that recognize and promote the civil rights struggle.
Claude has received numerous awards for his lifetime of work and dedication to the community and local history and has often been called upon to lecture at the local community college and as a special guest speaker for various civic clubs and organizations. He has been spotlighted in numerous feature articles in The Logan Banner for public works and activism and has been featured in articles in other newspapers throughout West Virginia.
"Claude and Bettie were known and respected by many people throughout the local community and the state on behalf of their work," noted Trina Collins, a coworker of Claude Williams. "He had been taking care of her for some time as her health got worse. Everybody has been stopping here at the courthouse and sending their condolences to him."
Services were held Saturday, June 19, in Roxbury, Ma.