Margaret Williams reflects on her life
by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star
Sep 10, 2013 | 1465 views |  0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Margaret Sanders Williams, and her late husband, Roy, always had strict rules for their children. Never were they allowed to be at home by themselves unless either she or Roy were there. The rule applied until their two children were out of high school.

Margaret worked as a licensed practical nurse at Regional Medical Center in Anniston for 20 years. For a few years, she was on first shift. As her children grew older and began playing sports and getting more involved in school activities, Margaret went to third shift so she could attend their events.

Margaret was born in the west Alabama county of Winston. Her father moved the family to Jacksonville when he was hired at Kilby Steel in Anniston. Margaret was 11 at the time.

She was 17 when she met and married Roy. He was 22. Margaret’s uncle was married to Roy’s sister and Roy, who was also from west Alabama, was fresh out of the Navy and had come to visit them.

They met in July and married in September 1946. They were married 61 years when he died in 2007.

“We were young together and we grew old together,” said Margaret. “We had our ups and downs like all married couples do. Roy had a quick temper, and I was more easy going. He was quick to apologize and quick to rectify whatever was going on. And I pouted.”

Margaret said she had to make a lot of adjustments after his death.

“Half of you is gone,” she said. “We socialized a lot. We had a lot of friends. We played cards with couples around our kitchen table for a lot of years. Our friends would bring something to eat or we’d make something here.”

She misses those times, but she’s moved on with her life. She enjoys her children and grandchildren and visits them often. She celebrated her 84th birthday with them in Tennessee a few months ago.

Her daughter and son-in-law, Rita and Don Beal, live in Spring Hill, Tenn. They have two sons. Matt is a manager for a Verizon store in Cookeville, Tenn., and Joe is an Air Force major living in Anchorage. The Beals have three grandchildren.

Her son, Don, is a certified public accountant and lives in Birmingham. He has a daughter and three sons, including twins Chad and Grant, who are also CPAs. Stacy Fifolt teaches school, and Josh works in sales. Don has four grandchildren.

In 1960, a friend, Julia Newell, told Margaret she was going to take a test so she could go to school to become a licensed practical nurse. Margaret said she’d go with her and take the test herself. They went through nursing school together in Gadsden. It’s been a decision Margaret is glad she made.

“I always loved nursing,” she said. “It was helping people that I liked the most.”

In the early ‘70s, another friend asked Margaret to go with her to painting classes. The classes were at night and the friend didn’t want to drive after dark. Margaret went, and it opened a new world for her.

She began to entertain the idea of teaching painting herself. She felt a little uncomfortable, believing she couldn’t teach. She spoke with a professor at Jacksonville State University who told her to “teach what you know; share what you know.”

In 1975, Margaret and Roy opened a store they called Margaret’s on the west side of the square. For the next 34 years Margaret taught painting and sold vitamins there. She hired two employees to help when she taught children.

Margaret is an advocate of natural vitamins. Her favorite brand is Nature’s Sunshine. They have no dyes in them like many vitamins. She had open heart surgery in 1996 and has good health since. Margaret believes the natural vitamins have helped her maintain her health. Through the years, she’s had a lot of people ask what she takes because she seems to feel and look so well.

“I always said when I turned 80 I would close the store,” she said. “Roy had passed away, I was dealing with it by myself and the rent went up. It was a culmination of different things. So now I’m free to get in the car and go to Tennessee or Birmingham and stay as long as I want. I can teach my Wednesday class and come back on Monday. When you reach 80 you need to be free.”

Margaret believes it’s a different kind of freedom.

“I’ve done a variety of things and I’ve always enjoyed everything I’ve done,” she said. “I think life is a journey, and as you go along, you need to learn new things. I’m still learning.”

She likes to talk about how much she loves her Sunday school class, the Grace class, at First Baptist Church. Her teachers are Carol Wilson and Charlotte Thornburg.

Margaret doesn’t waste one minute in a day. She teaches painting four times a week and makes greeting cards. Friends are always dropping in and out. She enjoys the company of her 15 year old Peekapoo, Princess, and 5 year old Chihuahua, Lucy.

Princess doesn’t like to travel, so a niece takes care of her when Margaret visits her children. Lucy likes to ride, so Margaret bought her a car seat, and Lucy rides - and sleeps almost the entire trip - when Margaret travels.

Margaret and Roy adopted four non-local JSU students, at different times over the years. One was Kelly Nye of Nashville who was attending JSU on a basketball scholarship. She ended up marrying another JSU student, Lee Hinkson, who was from Canada and was attending JSU on a baseball scholarship. They now coach in Dallas, Ga. Their three children call Margaret “Nana,” just as her own grandchildren do.

To this day, Margaret’s home is Kelly’s family’s home-away-from-home.

“We’ve had fun with our own kids and others,” said Margaret.

In the early ‘70s, when the EMT organization was still new in Jacksonville, Margaret and Roy were asked to be volunteers. They agreed and, for the next eight years, Roy drove patients to the hospital while Margaret put her nursing skills to work in the back of the vehicle with them.

Roy was a small arms inspector at Fort McClellan and Anniston Army Depot. After he retired he cooked dinner every night. Many times Margaret would come home to have Roy tell her that they were having company for dinner.

“He was always calling someone asking them to come eat with us,” she said. “He’d always tell them it was just as easy to cook for four as it was for two.”

Margaret had to get a new roof and the basement flooded after Roy died.

“I’ve had to learn to deal with insurance companies,” she said. “I’m having to do things that Roy always took care of. I had never put gas in my car. He always filled it up. It’s a growing independence. It’s been a journey. I’ve had some sadness, but I’ve had a more fun than sadness.”

Contact Margaret at
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Margaret Williams reflects on her life by Margaret Anderson
Special to The Star

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