Dr. Beryl Elizabeth W. Williams
by Beryl Williams Jackson
(her god daughter)
adapted for the www by Scott Williams (her son)
Dr. Beryl Elizabeth Williams was born Beryl Elizabeth Warner on the 23rd of May 1913. She was the eldest of two daughters born to James and Elizabeth Warner of Bangor, Maine. She departed this life on the morning of Friday, May 7, 1999.
From as long as she could remember, her parents instilled in Beryl and siblings sister, Althea, the importance of education. Though her mother received a high school education, her father only attended school until he was nine years old and the quest for knowledge was a priority in their home. Each week her parents would take them to the library and insist that they read. Her mother also formed a club of other Black mothers for the purpose of bonding, networking and supporting their children in reading and understanding literature and in reciting. With this as armor Beryl completed grammar and high school.
The University of Maine in Orono was near to Bangor so she could live at home and ride the trolley twelve miles to the university. She was the second Negro to attend and on those rare occasions when she missed the trolley she would walk the twelve miles to ensure that she received the education she so desperately wanted and knew she must have. Beryl was trained in music from the age of seven and thought that she might pursue this as her career. Though she changed her mind at the university and majored in mathematics, her musical talent and skills provided her with some of the money needed to support her education. During the "Depression" she played for the University of Maine's physical education department's rhythmic dance classes and earned 35 cents an hour. She also acquired other jobs that which required her to use her musical talent to earn money to live.
Beryl earned, with honors, a Bachelor (1935) degree in Mathematics with minor in English and a Master (1940) degree in Mathematics from the University of Maine. She had the distinct honor of being the first Negro to graduate from this university.
Even after completing college she continued studying music and had her heart set on becoming a concert pianist, but for practical reasons, gave up this dream. She realized that there was very little opportunity to earn a decent living as a concert pianist and decided that she would pursue her second interest, teaching. She became interested in education when she first started school and in those days, the trend was for a girl to become a teacher. So when she left Maine she moved to New Orleans where she got a mathematics teaching position in a Methodist Church school. She also taught mathematics at Claflin College in Orangeburg, South Carolina and at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Having met Dr. Roger Kenton Williams while at Claflin College, having found a common bond of scholarship and knowledge, which kept them close, and having further discovered a deep and abiding love for each other, Beryl and Roger were married in June 1942. This union was blessed with one son Scott Warner Williams. God further blessed this marriage for forty-seven years until the death of her beloved husband.
In 1948, when her husband was offered and accepted a position at Morgan State College. The family left North Carolina and moved to Baltimore. Soon after arriving she too was offered a job as a part-time evening/extension instructor. In 1954, she assumed the position of an English instructor and a mathematics instructor and because of her music background was also assigned humanities courses to teach at Morgan.
In 1963, Dr. Martin Jenkins, President of Morgan State College, asked Dr. Williams to head up the new unit of the Office of the Evening and Summer Sessions. In 1970 she became the first academic female dean at the college when she was named Dean of the Center for Continuing Education, the new name of her unit. She spent eighteen years at Morgan working in this administrative capacity. She worked the rest of her life to make the Baltimore community aware of Morgan's presence.
Dr. Williams has been an active member in the United Methodist Church for her entire life. She was a member of the Milton Avenue United Methodist church and served her local church and the universal church through her volunteer efforts and throughout her life.. Her community activities included, but were not limited to the following: Maryland League of Women's Clubs, the Maryland Committee for Equal Public Accommodations, the Maryland Committee for UNICEF, Maryland Church Women United, Maryland Churches United, the Governors Task Force on Educational and other Needs of Juvenile Services Organizations, Advance Federal Savings and Loan Association, Baltimore Board of School Commissioners, Baltimore Council of International Visitors, Baltimore Urban League, Baltimore NAACP (Life and Golden Life Member), Central Maryland Girl Scout Council, Metropolitan Baltimore YWCA, Pimlico Civic League, Wilson Park Community Club, Wilson Park Improvement Association, Citizens for Black History Exhibits, Morgan's Oral History Project, Morgan State University Women, Philomathians, Tally-Ups bridge Club, Zora Neale Hurston Society, American Association of University Women, American Business Women's Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, National Council of Negro Women, National Negro Business and Professional Women, National Cross Keys Service Fraternity, American Red Cross, and the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
She has traveled extensively in Africa, having visited over fifteen countries. Her visits were designed to afford her the opportunity to learn more about the educational structures and increase international cooperation. Her acquired knowledge about Africa afforded her numerous opportunities to come and speak to numerous persons. She presented to both young and mature audiences.
She was a surrogate mother to many students who found their way here from Africa and the Islands. She provided the support and nourishment that a young person in a foreign would need in order to stay focused and committed to their goals. She assumed the role of mother to so many. These bonds remain intact between Dr. Williams and the many young lives she touched.
News of her numerous accomplishments traveled back to Bangor, Maine and in 1972, Dr. Williams was an awarded an honorary doctorate for her outstanding work in education, community service and the church. Also, on another occasion, she was awarded the key to the city to recognize her for her humanitarian accomplishments. She has recognized by both the state and city for her accomplishments and service. She has received numerous awards, citations and certificates for her undying attention to the goals and purposes of the organizations to which she was committed.
Dr. Beryl Elizabeth Warner Williams is survived by her son, Dr. Scott Warner Williams of the State University of New York at Buffalo; a daughter-in law, Glo Aneibo-Williams; three granddaughters: Rachel Keri, Rebekah Ann, and Eve Elizabeth; one great grandson: Bhakti, one sister: Althea Warner Mandel; one brother-in-law: Dr. Bernard Mandel; many surrogate sons and daughters from overseas, and many friends and colleagues.
Beryl - Scott- Kenton Williams 1969